While largely recognized for its strong military hardware roots, Sukhoi introduced their "Superjet 100" line of regional passenger airliners in 2011 with launch customer Armavia of Armenia. In June of 2013, the concern managed a new milestone when it passed examples of its Superjet 100 to the first western customer in Mexican Interjet. To date (2013), twenty-eight examples of the twin-engined, all-modern airliner have been produced and this through a once-unheard of international effort with participants including European and American firms. 234 units are on order with some sixteen having been delivered to date (2013). Intended operators are Aeroflot, Finance Leasing Company, Lao Central Airlines, Orient Thai Airlines, Sky Aviation, Moskovia Airlines and Transaero among others. The Superjet 100 is produced under the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft banner.
The Superjet 100 program involves technology and input from a variety of major defense industry players such as Alenia Aermacchi of Italy, SNECMA of France, The Boeing Company of the United States, Thales Group of France and Honeywell of the United States. United Aircraft Corporation of Russia is the primary contractor with engines split between SNECMA of France and NPO Saturn of Russia. Western marketing is also assisted by Alenia Aermacchi through the Superjet International brand label.
Sukhoi developed the Superjet 100 to not only compete with western passenger offerings glutting the global market but also to replace the aging fleet of Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-134 and Yakovlev Yak-42 airliners (recognized in NATO nomenclature as "Crusty" and "Clobber" respectively). As such, the Superjet 100 manages a fully-modern, all-glass digital cockpit, fly-by-wire control and engines having been introduced as recently as 2008. The cockpit includes five large color displays through a clean instrument panel and a console separating the two crew. Controls are of the side-stick variety providing a very modern look. The passenger cabin showcases a single aisle with seats flanking the walk and overhead compartments as normally seen on other aircraft of this type. Its overall external configuration is highly conventional with a very well streamlined fuselage and forward-set flight deck. The fuselage is lined with porthole windows for the passenger cabin and sports typical entry/exit doors. Wings are swept and low-mounted on the fuselage, each managing an underslung engine nacelle. The empennage is typical of the aircraft class, fielding a single vertical tail fin with low-set horizontal planes. The undercarriage is designed for typical runway abuse and includes a pair of dual-wheeled main legs and a dual-wheeled nose leg. All are retractable at their respective positions.
Work on the Superjet 100 began as early as 2002 in which Boeing and Sukhoi entered into a limited agreement to design and develop a new regional jet. Boeing would supply consulting/marketing services whilst Sukhoi would head all else. Other contractors then fell into place through a truly international effort ranging from the United States and Canada to Europe and Asia. A prototype was cleared in November of 2004 and this was followed by formal Russian government backing in August of 2005 (the program would cost approximately $1.4 USD billion). Flight testing began in January of 2007 paving the way for powerplant development (the engines tested through a modified Ilyushin IL-76 carrier platform). With a prototype completed, first flight was recorded on May 19th, 2008 and development ran into 2009 while orders both locally and abroad were secured. Three prototypes were completed by the end of 2009. It was during this year that the product was formally showcased at the Paris Air Show to help drum up customer interest in the product. Russian certification was granted in 2010, to which a forth prototype was added, and European certification followed in 2012.
The Superjet will be produced across four distinct variants designated as SSJ 100-75, SSJ 100-75LR, SSJ 100-95 and SSJ 100-95LR. All of the marks will feature a flight crew of two, the same wingspan (91 feet) and same height (33 feet, 9 inches). All will also be powered by 2 x PowerJet SaM146 turbofan engines outputting between 13,500lbs and 17,500lbs thrust (developed by SNECMA of France and NPO Saturn of Russia). The 100-75 models are given running length of 86 feet, 9 inches versus the length of 98 feet, 3 inches found in the 100-95 models. Maximum take-off weights are listed at 85,600lbs, 93,200lbs, 101,100lbs and 109,000lbs across the four respective models. The Superjet design can operate at altitudes reaching 41,000 feet and reach speeds of 541 miles per hour though cruising will typically be handled at 511 miles per hour. The primary differences between the four marks, beyond the slight dimensional variations, will be their internal passenger configuration. The 100-75 models will sport a 1- or 2-class style layout with seating between 68 and 83 persons while the 100-95 models will be given a similar 1- or 2-class layout though seating between 86 and 103 persons.
The Jakarta Accident
The Superjet 100 was the subject of a very public (and fatal) accident occurring on May 9th, 2012. During a demonstration flight originating from Halim Perdanakusuma Airport at Jakarta (Indonesia) with 45 aboard, the Superjet 100 was given clearance to descend to 5,900 feet. it was at this point that contact with the aircraft was lost. The wreckage was later discovered having smashed into the side of Mount Salak. As expected in a crash such as this, no survivors were found. The cause of the crash is thought to have been pilot error for it was determined that the aircraft's collision avoidance system was functioning normally.
The Russians and Iranians are in talks to feature the Sukhoi Superjet 100 as a primary Iranian passenger hauler, replacing an aging stock of jet airliners currently in service.