Moscow - Sukhoi started flight tests for its Superjet SSJ100 equipped with new winglets, called "saberlets."

The first SSJ100 equipped with the new winglets made its maiden flight on December 21 from Zhukovsky Airport, near Moscow. According to the manufacturer, the aircraft bearing the number 95032 flew for 2 hours and 42 minutes at an altitude of 35000 feet. The crew evaluated the stability and maneuverability of the SSJ100 with different flap configurations. Tests were also conducted to determine fuel consumption at different phases of the flight.

Sukhoi hopes to reduce the fuel consumption of the SSJ100 by 3% thanks to the saberlets. The winglets are also expected to improve the performance of the aircraft during the take-off and landing phases, particularly on short runways or in airports located in hot and high regions.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) Chairman Alexander Rubtsov said in a statement that the saberlets are part of a program to meet the expectations of airline operators for SSJ100 in a highly competitive market environment. The new winglets will allow operators to reduce fuel costs by $70,000 a year per aircraft, he added.

Saberlets are produced by Voronezh Aircraft Corporation. Once certified, they will be offered as an option on the new SSJ100 and can be installed on existing devices.

The SSJ100 entered service in 2011 at Aeroflot, the launch company. On December 19, the Russian flagship carrier received 35th copy out of the 50 ordered. The aircraft is operated mainly by Russian airline operators. Outside Russia, it is in service with the Irish company CityJet and the Mexican Interjet.