What Is The Future For The Sukhoi Superjet SJ100?

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Russia’s Sukho Superjet SJ100 has quite an interesting future ahead. With an order for 100 aircraft for Aeroflot, the future for the variant is looking to be quite lucrative. But some challenges still remain on the horizon before the SJ100 can claim its destiny.

Interjet
An InterJet Superjet SJ100. Photo: Getty Images

What is the Superjet SJ100?

Simple Flying recently covered the SJ100, Russia’s answer to the Airbus A220. 

The SJ100 is a small regional plane that can fly 100 passengers to a distance of 1,894 nautical miles. This is actually small compared to the Airbus A220, which can fly more range and carry more passengers, but is just over half the price. You can read more about how they compare here.

Norwegian, Sukhoi, SJ100
The SJ100 seats around 100 passengers. Photo: Katsuhiko Tokunaga/SuperJet International via Wikimedia

How successful is the SJ100 currently?

So far, 302 SJ100 aircraft have been ordered, with 175 built and 148 delivered to airlines.

There has been a range of airlines that have ordered the aircraft, including S7, Iran Air Tours, Aseman Airlines, Aero Mongolia, and even the Mexican carrier InterJet.

But the majority of aircraft are for the Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, who has ordered 150 SJ100s. In late 2018, they boosted their fleet order for an additional 100 Superjets in a two-class configuration (12 business class seats and 75 seats in economy). These are to be delivered from 2019 to 2026.

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This delivery schedule means that the aircraft type will remain a contender for at least the next five years. Some improvements are planned, such as adding wingtips to decrease fuel consumption. Following that, the life expectancy of the aircraft depends on either another major order or it’s replaced by an improved Sukho Superjet variant (perhaps even an SJ100 that sits up to 200 passengers to take on the Boeing 737 and A320).

Sukhoi Superjet 100
An SJ100 in Aeroflot livery. Photo: Aeroflot

There is are some challenges for the plane

Despite the huge order from Aeroflot, SJ100 has two major challenges that I can see.

The first is maintenance. Despite managing to get some worldwide sales, Russia is where the aftermarket support ends. Airlines that have flown it have had issues with the type, especially in regards to getting spare parts or engine repairs.

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As Simple Flying reader Peter pointed out, “This is the reason Interjet and others can’t keep them going. Great dispatch rates when they are new but one by one the Motors fail, the Contract doesn’t provide for a Replacement Motor while the original is being repaired so they just go into storage.”

In fact, these problems came to a head in 2019 when CityJet, a European airline, returned all of its SJ100 aircraft back to where they got them thanks to the ‘huge lack of spare parts‘, causing the aircraft to spend more than half the time on the ground.

If the Superjet could be operated by a different engine, perhaps like GE or Rolls Royce (just not the Trent 1000) then it would make the aircraft far more reliable.

Superjet
Typical SJ100 cabin. Photo: SuperJet International

Additionally, the SJ100 needs to see some action outside of the Russian sphere of influence. Whilst it has been picked up in North America, Asia, and Far Eastern Europe, it really needs to go west and have either a major United States carrier or another Western European airline give the type a go. And at the price that they are selling them, they very well might turn some heads.

What do you think of the future of the SJ100? Let us know in the comments.

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