The United Aircraft Corporation’s CEO revealed today that the company, majority-owned by the Russian government, was ramping up deliveries of the Sukhoi Superjet. Having resolved issues leading to rampant maintenance costs, the company is optimistic for the future of the jet, saying it will become the backbone of regional operations in Russia.
Over 180 jets in service by the end of 2021
In a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) CEO informed the Russian leader that the manufacturer would increase its output of Sukhoi Superjets in 2021. Another 30 are now set to be delivered before the year is over.
“We now have 155 planes operating. We will have 30 more airplanes this year. In total, by the end of the year, there will be more than 180 airplanes flying,” UAC head Yury Slyusar said as reported by Russian news agency TASS.
One major obstacle airlines have previously faced in regards to operating the Superjet has been high servicing costs and problems acquiring spare parts. This was something that made the world’s third-largest operator of the type, Yamal Airlines, cancel options for ten of the aircraft in 2019. However, Mr Slyusar says that these issues have now been resolved.
“In fact, I can say we are slowly headed towards the Superjet becoming the basis for the regional aircraft fleet, and people will largely travel on this plane domestically, bypassing Moscow in particular,” Slyusar continued.
Main Sukhoi customers
Up until now, UAC has received 301 orders for the Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100. To date, it has delivered 147 of them. The majority of the orders have, perhaps unsurprisingly, come from domestic carriers. Flag carrier Aeroflot has ordered 150 and has taken delivery of 61.
The remaining will go to sister carrier Rossiya Russian Airlines, which already has 33, as the Group moves to reposition its airlines under its 30/30 strategy. Meanwhile, leisure carrier Red Wings, which currently has seven SSJs, is entertaining the thought of adding as many as 60 of the jets to its fleet by 2024.
Meanwhile, its largest international customer, now-defunct Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet, quickly fell out of love with its 22 SSJ100s due to rampant servicing costs. Following the fatal crash of Aeroflot Flight 1492 in May 2019, the airline said it was only actively operating five of its Superjets.
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Domestic engine option on the way
Work on a Russian-made engine for the plane is also coming along, Mr Slyusar revealed in his presidential update. He said that the engineers of the United Engine Corporation had shown ‘significant success’.
UAC hopes to be able to offer a domestically crafted PD-8 engine option alongside the jet’s current French-Russian joint project PowerJet SaM146. The full-scale PD-8 is set to be revealed at the MAKS Air Show, taking place between July 20 and 25 at Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airport.