Sukhoi Superjet underperforms due to a design flaw in the engines


Moscow - Sukhoi's Superjet underperforms due to engine problems, customers complain. The SSJ100 is equipped with two SaM146 engines manufactured by Powerjet, a joint venture of the Russian ODK-Saturn and the French Safran.

The SSJ100 is designed for short and medium haul routes. It is powered by two engSaM146, which were developed specifically for the Sukhoi's SSJ100 program. They are produced by Powerjet, the joint venture of the Russian engine manufacturer ODK-Saturn (part of the United Engine Corporation) and the French Safran.

SSJ100s have been delivered to airlines since 2011, but so far they fly very little. The average flight time of the aircraft in Russia became 3.3 hours per day in 2017. The reason is the shortage and long delivery time of spare parts in case of breakdowns.

The Embraer E170, which began to fly exclusively on short regional routes of S7 Airlines, flew last year around six hours per day. Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 family jetliners flew at an average of ten hours a day in the same period with the Russian carriers.

SaM146 problems occur in the so-called hot part of the engine, where fuel is burned. Cracks appear in the combustion chambers or oil collectors after 2000–4000 flight hours, and sometimes after 1000 flight hours.

The engine must be sent to overhaul then although the manufacturer promises that the engine should run 7500-8000 hours before the first major overhaul.

Azimut Airlines' three Superjet 100 out of eight have already suffered from the engine flaws, despite those three aircraft were new ones and have been in operation since September 2017. The other five copies joined the airline's fleet in 2018.

The experts don't know why those cracks occur so quickly. Safran manufactures engines for other aircraft. But the problem is only with the SaM146, although the suppliers of components are the same as for the rest of the product line.

Repair of a failed engine costs from two to five million dollars and lasts around two months. Since this is a design flaw, the manufacturer repairs the engine at its own expense. But the airline itself pays for the rental of the replacement engine.

Airlines should pay an extra amount during the aircraft orders if they don't want to wait and be charged for replacement engines. Among Sukhoi customers, only Russian flag carrier Aeroflot has this privilege.