To hear Sukhoi tell it, its Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) is "the first aircraft [in Russian commercial aviation history] ever designed with due consideration of requirements and demands of potential worldwide operators."
In short, the company means business. And not just this year. It had thought out a future course no doubt long before it signed a long-term cooperation agreement on December 19, 2002, with Boeing to consult in areas such as marketing, design and manufacturing, certification and quality systems, supplier management, and after-sales support.
Pulling in Boeing, the epitome of a westernized industrial giant, may have been the catalyst that either inspired Sukhoi to pull in other non-Russian aerospace companies, and/or simply a sign of a gradual but genuine opening to technologies developed beyond Russian borders. For example, Thales designed an avionics open architecture based on integrated modular technology, decreasing the number of structure modules by 15% and facilitating maintenance procedures.
Sukhoi has hit the ground running in 2010, already undergoing several important events to boost both its profile and its product line. One was the first flight of the fourth SSJ100 prototype, the SN 95005. During a nearly 3-h flight, the crew examined systems integrity and performance as well as readiness for certification trials.
Under the certification campaign, SN 95005 will undergo a complex evaluation of onboard equipment and avionics as well as failure safety tests. The aircraft will also undergo fire protection and inert gas system testing. That particualr aircraft will also host the crew pilot trainings for the SSJ100's first customers. The first ever conference on crew trainings for Aeroflot took place in September 2009.
To provide a smooth and regular certification flight test pace and comply with the schedule aimed at the AR IAC type certificate acquisition, the 95005 was powered with engines that had been taken off the first flight prototype, the 95001, which had completed the test campaign and 280 flights.
Every flight adds up. According to Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk, President of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, “With another prototype in the certification program, we will be able to deliver 75 flights monthly. Provided that engines are certificated and delivered in due time, we will acquire the type certificate in middle 2010.”
Essentially the goal is now to verify the SSJ100's technologies. According to Sukhoi, the aircraft "is easy and safe to pilot." The cockpit design features a passive side stick and active” engine control levers. A "human-centered design" concept arranges the control levers and onboard equipment for maximized efficiency.
SSJ100 features a fully electronic fly-by-wire (FBW) control system for piloting, landing gear extension and retraction, and braking. A failure-safe FBW architecture "eliminates mechanical redundancy," says Sukhoi. the horizontal stabilizer is also controlled by FBW, leading to stabilizer optimal size and reduction of aerodynamic and trim resistance. The SSJ100 is algorithmically protected against tail/runway collision induced by pilot.
Sukhoi claims the SSJ100 will be the first regional aircraft to have "such advanced control system features." In case of in-flight system failures, a standby control circuit offers piloting characteristics similar to those of manual flight mode.
Built-in failure-detection systems able to find any failure including those at the LRU level of any major aircraft system will be on each SSJ100. Each aircraft is powered by the new SaM146 engine developed by PowerJet to meet "the highest performance and eco requirements." PowerJet is a joint venture between Snecma Moteurs and NPO Saturn.
New technologies being introduced at SSJ100 production sites include 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.
In another Sukhoi milestone, the company flew the prototype of its fifth-generation fighter jet for 47 minutes in late January. The stealth aircraft, known as the PAK FA or Sukhoi T-50, is about three years late in its maiden flight and is not expected to go into mass production until 2015.