Russia is determined to launch a new superjet that will have 97% of its components made locally including the engine for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) aircraft.
This is after PowerJet, the only manufacturer of engines for the Russian regional airliner, terminated its engine maintenance and repair services following the international sanctions against Russia over its military operations in Ukraine.
PowerJet, a joint venture company between Russian engine manufacturer NPO Saturn and French aerospace engine producer Safran, notified its Russia-based partners of the suspension of the contract that includes the supply of spare parts for SaM146 as well as technical support for said engines, Russian media reported on March 30, 2022.
Meanwhile, Russia’s United Engine Corporation (Russian acronym ODK) has completed ground testing of the PD-8 turbofan and has begun preparing it for flight trials on the Ilyushin-76LL testbed later this year.
The manufacture of two experimental engines has begun for installation on a Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) by year-end.
Back in 2020, before the current heightened tension between Russia and the West, the CEO of the Rostec State Corporation, Sergey Chemezov, announced that a new version of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 is being built, to replace more than 90% of imported components.
To eliminate dependence on foreign vendors, the Kremlin allocated $1.83 billion for the development of a completely indigenous Superjet, dubbed the SSJ100NEW. About half of that sum goes to the PD-8, including production preparations. To reduce unit costs, ODK plans to expand the use of 3D printing technology.
The superjet would have the same capabilities and features, except that almost all of its components, including the engine and the onboard equipment, would be made in Russia.
According to Chemezov, this would make the manufacturing process much cheaper, and therefore the superjet would be more attractive for local airlines.
Plans for a new version of the Sukhoi 100 actually began in 2018 when the intention was to replace the imported components by 10 to 15%.
Later on, it was decided that most of the components would be replaced with locally-made ones.
One of the most important elements of the future SSJ-NEW is the advanced PD-8 engine, which according to Rostec, is unlike anything “previously created in the USSR and Russia.” Tests for this new engine began this year, and testing of the second prototype engine core was recently completed.
The engine core or “heart” is comprised of a high-pressure compressor, a combustion chamber, and a high-pressure turbine. The recent tests evaluated the joint operation of the components at the required temperature and pressure parameters. Another important factor to be tested was the level of smoke and other toxic emissions, to make sure that the engine complies with environmental standards.
According to the manufacturer, the compressor and the hot section of the engine were developed at the same time, which accelerated the production of the PD-8 engine. After these successful tests, the engine prototype is now ready to be assembled.
The prototype engine will then undergo further testing, in simulated flight conditions.
If things go according to plan, the PD-8 engine will be certified in 2023, and Russia’s 97% locally-made superjet will be launched in 2024.
Should local vendors manage to produce enough components, UAC plans to boost the Superjet production rate from 20 in 2022 to 30 in 2024-2025 and then to more than 40.
Because the West now declines to sell aircraft to Russian airlines, they can buy only from the local industry. UAC estimates the domestic demand for SSJ100 at 150 aircraft.