SaM146 is a strength of Sukhoi Superjet 100
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This is a translation of the original article in Russian

In the early stages of testing and manufacturing SaM146 sometimes grieved their creators by surge, false alarms and other failures. As time goes on we now hear lesser problems with the operation of engines of this make and model. At the same time aircrafts which are equipped by this Franco-Russian power plant continue to suffer from various kinds of technical problems, showing relatively low average fleet flying time. Recently a correspondent of was able to discuss this topic with Claude Poulain — new head of PowerJet, a joint venture between NPO "Saturn" and Snecma, who is managing the SaM146 programme.

Poulain Claude


Chairman of the Board and CEO of PowerJet. Claude Poulain was appointed to the position of the Chairman of the Board and CEO of PowerJet in mid-July 2013. PowerJet company was founded in July 2004 as a joint venture between Snecma group Safran ( France) and "Saturn" ( Russia), it manages the SaM146 program, including development, production, marketing and sales, as well as providing support services to customers and maintenance and repair of aircraft engines. Mr Poulain has replaced the previous head of the company — Jacques Desclaux — who now moved to a new job. The decision on personnel replacement was made by the Board of Directors held on July 8, 2013 at the Snecma headquarters. New head of PowerJet is 59 years old. He graduated from the Paris Business School ESSEC. Also Claude received an engineering degree in mechanics and electrics in the ESME educational institution, city of Paris. Mr Poulain's career began in 1981 at the Genevilliers factory of Snecma where he worked as a financial controller. In 1986 he joined CFM International — a joint venture between Snecma and General Electric (USA). A couple of years later Claude was appointed the head of commercial deals and customer financing as part of CFM International Snecma department of marketing and sales. Between 1994 and 2001 he was a senior finance vice president for Snecma, engaged in structuring deals and questions related to customer financing. From 2001 to 2009 he was a head of marketing services for CFM56 and SaM146. In 2010, Claude Poulain became a senior vice president for strategy development of Snecma commercial engines and services, as well as a senior vice president of marketing and sales at the joint venture PowerJet.

— As of today, PowerJet shows significantly better results in bringing its product to the desired condition than other Sukhoi Superjet 100 suppliers. Mr Poulain, please tell me why PowerJet turns out better than the other? Reveal your secret!

— Our secret is very simple: we have developed a workable engine based on the proven architecture CFM56. The engine is equipped with a high-pressure compressor of a progressive design — just six stages, this proved to be a good technical solution, which our experts have managed to bring to life .

That's why SaM146 has a good operational performance. There are minimal departure delays caused by power plant faults among existing park of Sukhoi Superjet 100. This allows me to proudly say to you today that engine manufacturers do not create any problems for airlines that operate aircraft of this type. Talking about the power plant, from the very beginning of commercial operation of "Superjet" in Aeroflot it demonstrated a high reliability. Today we do not have any serious problems with serial engines.

Going back to your question about secrets. There are no secrets, except the fact that Snecma and our Russian partner NPO "Saturn" managed to achieve a tremendous progress since the program's initiation ten years ago. We managed to create a good basic design and organise its production so that engines assembled in Rybinsk demonstrate high reliability since the early days of commercial operation in Aeroflot. We are very proud of the fact that the engine has very good EGT margins, even somewhat larger than it was expected at the design phase. All this makes SaM146 a good buy for airlines, because it can be operated for a long time without removing it from the wing.


— Is it possible to increase the thrust?

We have already increased it by 5%. The original model was called 1S-17, these engines were installed on the Sukhoi Superjet 100-95B. Then we created a 1S-18 to fit on recently certified Long Range version. On this model we were able to gain additional 5% of thrust without any changes in the engine design, purely by tuning the control system.

— In recent years aircraft manufacturers are talking a lot about the prospects of the business version of the aircraft: Sukhoi Business Jet, which will fly even further than the Long Range version. ComLux Swiss — the initial customer for these aircrafts — intends to use them on routes across the Atlantic, in particular on non-stop flights from Paris to destinations within the United States of America. Won't SaM146 cause problems on such long routes over the ocean? Are you sure that the ETOPS requirements in relation to the engine will be met in full?

— We are confident in this without any doubts. Today we are already shipping 1S-18 serial engines to SCAC LLC for installation on Sukhoi Business Jet planes. I have to admit however that the ETOPS requirements do not apply to business jets. Business jet's operators are following different rules than those in commercial aviation. Therefore we are not referring to the aviation authorities for the ETOPS certification.

In addition, this kind of activity is normally performed by business aircraft manufacturers and operators. Under the current practice, you should certify the plane and its operator, if the latter wants to carry passengers for money across the ocean. Of course, if someone wants to perform VIP charters across the ocean and will offer this kind of service on the market, then perhaps they will decide whether to apply to aviation authorities for the ETOPS certificate. From my current position I am confident that engines developed and manufactured by us are capable of fulfilling all of the requirements contained in the rules of flights across the Atlantic.

Maybe you already know that our parent company Snecma and its industrial partner in the United States — General Electric implement a new family of engines — CFM56. In particular, these engines are installed on Boeing Business Jets and Airbus Corporate Jetliners. These twin-engine machines fly safely around the world and operate long distance flights with a very long duration in transit over the water surface. I hope that the Sukhoi Business Jet and its powerplant will demonstrate a similar reliability in operation.

— Currently UAC and "SCAC" are performing measures to increase the production rate. Will PowerJet be able to satisfy the increased demand for engines for newly issued "Superjet"s?

— Of course. I think we will be able to supply a required number of engines for "Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company". Both parent structures of JV PowerJet — Russian NPO "Saturn" and the French Snecma — have a large production capacity that gives me confidence in their ability to meet the needs of aircraft manufacturers.

— Are you considering making any improvements in the design of serial engines?

— So far we have not made any "fundamental" alterations to the designs, but have already made some minor changes. In particular, they relate to the reducing the weight of the power plant. We continue to work in this direction. Weight reduction is one of the goals pursued by PowerJet in the area of proactive development of the basic engine design.

In addition, since the first SaM146 has entered the commercial operation, we are constantly working on improving the quality of customer support for engines operated by airlines. Today, the situation seems to me exactly as you have outlined it in the beginning of our conversation: there are no depressing facts of the operational reliability of serial motors, and no documented complaints from airlines.

SaM146 demonstrates a high reliability. I am happy with the low values of specific fuel consumption (SFC). It is important to stress that we have met the specification immediately upon entering of Sukhoi Superjet 100 in the commercial operations. This is a unique phenomenon in our days, to have fuel consumption rates matching specifications from the day one! As of today, after two and a half years of serial production, we are exceeding the SFC numbers recorded in the specification.


— It is known that any engine begins to consume more fuel in a continuous operation — a phenomenon called «performance deterioration». Have you had chance to assess this parameters for serial SaM146 engines in operation? What PowerJet does in order to keep the «performance deterioration» within the acceptable limits?

— Probably you know that the CFM56 family engines are known for their low rates of «performance deterioration». SaM146 has the same proven architecture coupled with some modern components such as high pressure compressor of a new design with fewer stages. That's why I see no reasons why SaM146 will behave worse in that sense than the CFM56.

In fact, the performance deterioration will be close for both models. Again, these assumptions are based on the similarity of the architecture of these engines. My words do not apply to LEAP — the next generation of engines from Snecma and General Electric, which is built on other structural solutions and technologies. But in comparison with CFM56, SaM146 model has either the same or, in some places, a better technology . If we take (the early version) CFM56-3, then SaM146 is better, it even slightly exceeds (still being produced ) CFM56-7. So there are no reasons for the increased performance deterioration.

We are closely monitoring the parameters of serial motors in operation and so far we don't see any deviations from predicted estimates. I can say it for sure: good family roots make the difference!

— Your competitors from Pratt & Whitney are developing new engines of the PurePower family — turbojet engines with the gearbox between the fan and the turbine (Geared Turbofan, GTF). They claim that the PurePower has the fuel consumption decreased by 15% in comparison with existing serial engines on the market. What will be your answer to that?

— As of this moment GTF is still in development; it is not used in commercial operation yet. At the same time SaM146 is already operated by Aeroflot for more than two years.

If an airline wants to order a new plane right now and get it in the near future, it will have to choose from a very limited number of options. Today, the regional jet market is presented by Embraer with its E-series or by Bombardier with CRJ. Brazilian and Canadian planes do not have the level of comfort that "Superjet" has. In addition, they are equipped with CF34 engines which we consider to be less advanced than SaM146.

As for the new aircraft models that have not yet been certified, they have problems with meeting the previously promised time frame. You can read in press that the Japanese MRJ has been now officially postponed until 2017. The appearance of the modified aircraft from Embraer is scheduled for 2018. In other words, if you want to get a GTF airplane, you will have to take your place in the queue and have a lot of patience, waiting for delivery in 2019-2020, and maybe later. At the same time, the Russian industry gives a boost for "Superjet" production.

I can add that for engines close to SaM146 dimensions the GTF technology may turn out to be a problem. According to experts from PowerJet, this architecture carries too much structural complexity and associated risks without providing substantial benefits.

For regional aircraft with its short cycles the GTF architecture does not promise benefits in reducing costs and simplifying service — and these are main factors what operators require from us. The Geared Turbofan concept supposed to reduce the number of stages of the engine. Meanwhile, existing SaM146 already has two or three stages less than currently considered PurePower options for regional aircrafts.

This point of view is supported by our parent company Snecma. You know that Snecma is currently developing the next generation of engine — LEAP — in partnership with General Electric. This is a very economical engine and it will be on the edge of modern technologies. There will be a lot of innovations in it, but it won't have a gearbox.

— You mentioned that on the market Sukhoi Superjet 100 competes with products of Embraer. Brazilian's E-190/195 aircrafts are equipped with CF-34-10. Mr Poulain, please tell our readers about the benefits that SaM146 brings to "Sukhoi" ?

— I frequently speak on this topic, we help our partners from Sukhoi in promotion of their aircraft on the international market, we participate in the "Superjet" sell campaign. The mentioned above CF34-10 is in a sense a smaller copy of the CFM56. We started development of SaM146 after CFM56 and CF34-10 were already created and were able to benefit from the recent (at that time) achievements of Snecma, received during the implementation of various RnD projects and programs. Thanks to them SaM146 is more technically advanced.

Since Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a regional aircraft, during its development we paid more attention to reducing maintenance costs rather than reducing the fuel consumption. Nevertheless, at the time of entry into the commercial operation specific fuel consumption (SFC) of SaM146 were better than these of CF34-10. Furthermore, we have developed the engine with a smaller than competitors number of components; we created the engine with lower maintenance costs. We also have additional advantages in terms of lower noise and emissions, which we achieved in SaM146 by using the latest technologies (which were not yet available for creators of CF34).

All this gives me the confidence to say that SaM146 is a strength of Sukhoi Superjet 100, when it is compared with models of similar dimensions which are currently produced.

— Mr Poulain, you have got this new assignment recently. Do you have any ideas around how to make PowerJet better?

— By its nature PowerJet is a joint venture between Snecma and NPO "Saturn", it manages SaM146 project, and we are in charge of marketing and sales. It all happened like this because our founders wanted to have a single point of contact when dealing with clients. I think that PowerJet deals with this well and we do not need to change in this area.

At the same time, we constantly aim to improve in terms of customer support, providing our customers with quality services. And here we want to follow the example of CFM International, use their gained experience and a well-functioning "feedback" with the customer base of almost six hundred operators. It is important to continue this momentum on a daily basis in collaboration with our customers, especially the Mexican airline Internet, which recently started commercial flights with Sukhoi Superjet 100-95B. We have designated our best specialists for this operator to help them operate SaM146 and airplanes in the best way. This is where we are focused now.

Vladimir Karnozov ,

25 Feb 2014 10:50

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