Published on October 14th, 2015 | by Jim Lee0
CityJet chooses the Sukhoi Superjet 100, as its Avro RJ-85 replacement
After much speculation, CityJet has finally settled on the 98-seat Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100), as the aircraft for its fleet renewal and network development programme. The surprise selection was announced at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) General Assembly in Berlin, which opened on 13th October. The ERA is a trade association representing the European aviation industry. Its membership includes 53 airlines and over 120 associate and affiliate members who jointly cover the entire spectrum of the aviation sector – airlines, airports, manufacturers and suppliers.
Despite the rather grey skies the mood at the first day of the three-day event was buoyant. Nevertheless the CityJet announcement certainly would have come as a bitter disappointment to Bombardier, an ERA member, which must surely have hoped that their CSeries, with its Belfast production connections, might have been selected.
We can confirm that a preliminary agreement has been signed by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC), SuperJet International (SJI) and CityJet Airlines, for 15 aircraft plus 10 options. CityJet has also signed an agreement with an unspecified lessor for the lease of the aircraft.
Sukhoi has also announced that along with the document signed, it had agreed the execution of a ‘SuperCare’ Agreement with CityJet, to provide after-sales support for the new fleet for 12 years. The CityJet aircraft will be supported by SJI, with this tailored after-sales solution, beginning with the aircraft’s entry into service. SJI is a joint venture between Finmeccanica – Alenia Aermacchi of Italy and the Russian Sukhoi Holding. Based on the list price of the aircraft, and including options and services, the value of the agreement is worth over $1 Billion (around €873 million).
The SSJ100 seats 98 passengers and the twinjets are built by SCAC, in which Alenia Aermacchi holds 25% plus one share. Sukhoi say that it is the first aircraft in its class to offer five abreast seating, in what it describes as, “a generous 32” (812mm) seat pitch”. The fuselage cross-section increases the aisle width up to 510mm (20.08”) and the company goes on to claim that combined with a wider seat of 465mm (18.31”) and cabin height of over 2.100 m (83.46”), the SSJ100 “offers more cabin and overhead bin space than competitors”. Passengers also enjoy “easy and comfortable access to overhead bins which comfortably swallow” standard roll-aboard bags (IATA approved hand luggage; maximum 610x405x255mm or 24″x16″x10″). The aircraft’s spacious overhead bins are also “perfectly suited for outer garments and coats (from raincoats to Alaska coats) regardless of the season or region”. Finally, the double-bubble fuselage gives “expanded life space” for each passenger up to 0.885 m³ (31.25 ft³) and increased the height of the cargo compartment up to 1,014 mm (40″).
It adds that the SSJ100 “utilises the latest in design and flight technology from key manufacturers” such as Snecma (engines) and Thales (avionics) from France and Goodrich (wheels) and Honeywell (auxiliary power unit) from the USA. The interior benefits from Italian design house of Pininfarina. The Sukhoi Superjet 100 programme therefore represents the most important industrial partnership between the Russian Federation and Europe in the civil aviation sector.
Commenting on the selection of the SSJ 100, CityJet’s Executive Chairman Pat Byrne, said: “We are very excited to be the very first airline in Europe to choose this ‘’game-changing’’ aircraft that delivers a level of comfort, plush interior design and cabin capacity that is far superior to all of its competitors. This is a very versatile new generation jet which will fulfil our requirements with a capability to operate at smaller airports such as our hub at London City Airport and offer significant advantages in fuel efficiency, emissions ratings and noise reduction.” Mr. Byrne went on: “We intend introducing the SSJ100 on charter activity in 2016 and we will place it on our London City route network in 2017. We believe our customers will love this jet,” he added.
In a statement President of SCAC, Mr. Ilya Tarasenko said: “This agreement underlines long standing efforts of the entire project team and embosses SSJ100 outstanding performance characteristics and a great deal of comfort for a highly demanding today’s passengers. Our project has passed significant milestones of its development. When SSJ100 will start flying European sky under CityJet flag, it is surely stepping into the maturity”.
His colleague, Mr. Nazario Cauceglia, CEO of SuperJet International added: “We are extremely proud of the choice made by CityJet and to add such a valuable European airline to our customers. This agreement represents a great result, proving the quality of this state-of-the-art product which confirms once again the unsurpassed operational flexibility and it’s outstanding economic performance. The aircraft will operate in the heart of Europe with full support of our dependable and robust product support portfolio of services”
Delivery programme and certification
The first deliveries are scheduled for the first quarter of 2016 with CityJet crews due to start their training on SSJ100 by the end of the year. Training will take place at the Training and Delivery Centre at Tessera International Airport, in Venice , utilising the aircraft’s Full Flight Simulator based there. CityJet has agreed to take four aircraft in 2016 with the delivery of an additional 11 throughout 2017. No indicative dates have been given for additional ten aircraft on option.
CityJet will use the SSJ100 as the replacement for its fleet of fleet of 18 Avro RJ-85s, which it operates across Europe, including London City Airport. Despite their age, they have been retained as a result of their superior performance into and out of London City airport.
While the SSJ100 achieved European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification in February 2012, it is not currently certified for operation into London City Airport. Sukhoi confirm in its statement that the aircraft will achieve the necessary certification for London City operations “by the end of 2016”.
Technical information provided by the manufacturer
Sukhoi describe the SSJ100 as an advanced and cost-effective commercial aircraft, built with state-of-the art technologies in aerodynamics, engine and aircraft systems and easy and safe to fly. The cockpit design features a ‘passive’ side stick and ‘active’ engine control levers. “The Human Cantered Design concept perfectly arranges the control levers and on-board equipment. SSJ100 can be landed by one pilot only. Dark and Quiet Cockpit offers precise, convenient and reliable piloting of Sukhoi Superjet 100”.
Optimal piloting in automated mode, together with the failure-safe flight control system, ensure additional fuel efficiency and improve flight safety. The remote control system (RCS) is based upon three two-channel upper level computers (PFCU – Primary Flight Actuator Control Unit) adding two-channel lower level computers (ACE – Actuator Control Electronics). PFCU’s process command signals coming from the cockpit, autopilot and avionics, optimising piloting performance in all flight modes. This “unsurpassed functionality of PFCU” results from Sukhoi Design Bureau’s experience in development of FBW systems with automatic limitation of ultimate and operational flight parameters in manual and automatic control modes. Solid reliability of the aircraft systems and pilot induced failure proof functionality increase flight safety. The company believes it is the first regional aircraft, enjoying such advanced control system features. In case of in-flight system failures, the RCS switches to the standby control circuit offering flying characteristics similar to those of manual flight mode.
The SSJ100 features fully electronic fly-by-wire control system for piloting, landing gear extension and retraction, and a brake system “to prove its high maintainability and weight perfection”. It’s failure-safe FBW architecture means no more mechanical redundancy. The horizontal stabilizer is also controlled by fly-by-wire, leading to stabiliser optimal size and reduction of aerodynamic and trim resistance. Its advanced systems are designed to protect against tail/runway collision induced by pilot.
The aircraft’s aerodynamic configuration is specifically optimised for high cruise M-speed. Accordingly an increase in speed does not lead to a dramatic increase in fuel consumption. It also has a higher cruise speed. Fuel efficiency is secured by the third generation supercritical airfoil wing and excellent local aerodynamics. Combined with perfectly balanced aircraft control laws in autopilot mode add to fuel consumption savings of 10% per seat compared to similar aircraft. The SSJ100’s enhanced take-off and landing performance along with all-weather operation, wide range and passenger payload capabilities make SSJ100 an efficient route developer, offering airlines freedom in route and schedule planning. It can be operated through short-to-medium range routes and has a flight range of 4,500 km (2,796 miles).
The THALES designed avionics open architecture is based on the integrated modular technology. This helps to decrease the number of structure modules by 15% and to facilitate maintenance procedures.
The aircraft is also equipped with the built-in failure detection system able to find any failure including those at the LRU level of any major aircraft system. In addition, the basic configuration of the avionics offers wider functionality, including triple ultra-short-wave communication system with ACARS function, the second generation Terrain and Traffic Collision Avoidance System (T2CAS) designed to prevent collision as well as the IIIA ICAO category approach capabilities.
Each aircraft is powered by the new SaM146 engine developed by PowerJet to meet the highest performance and eco requirements. Snecma S.A. and NPO Saturn’s distinct experience and “perfect synergy produced a hi-tech result by applying the CFM56 & Tech56 technologies when creating an engine distinguished for its excellent performance”.
A strong focus was also put on engine maintainability. Owing to the new modular design, the engine employs 20% less parts, which significantly streamlines maintenance operations. Also blades can be replaced with engine still on the wing.
Sukhoi say that it is “obvious that leading-edge technologies applied in design & development demand state-of-the-art technologies in production”. The new technologies introduced at SCAC’s production sites are: automatic riveting and high-speed part machining, information environment, embracing design, production and supply into common environment, airframe jigless assembly with laser positioning, manufacturing of wing panel and wing coupling to the fuselage with no manual adjustment. Airframe parts are manufactured at the company’s production facilities located in Komsomolsk-on-Amur (KnAAPO) and Novosibirsk (NAPO), while the technologically advanced production site in Voronezh (VASO) provides aircraft parts made of composite materials. The Komsomolsk-on-Amur facility is also responsible for final assembly, flight tests, aircraft acceptance and some delivery centre operations.
About 55 SSJ 100 aircraft are now in service, including several with the Western launch customer, the Mexican airline Interjet. A further 15 that were built are in storage with one scrapped (RA-95002) and one (97004) written off in an accident on 9th May 2012.