Odds and Ends: SuperJet 100; cell phones on airplanes; 787 real-time monitoring; Crikey

SuperJet 100: This airplane, which is basically the old Dornier 728 jet design, was supposed to be Russia’s leap to western standards. It hasn’t worked out that way, according to this article.

Cell Phones on Airplanes: There continues a debate over whether cell phones really have to be turned off for take-off and landing. This finally explains the technical issues of the cell phone and other electronic devices.

787 Real Time Monitoring: NPR (the national public radio in the US) has this report about Boeing’s real-time monitoring of the worldwide 787 operations.

Crikey: The ever-direct (and cranky) Ben Sandilands weighs in on the Airbus-Boeing advertising tiff.

33 Comments on “Odds and Ends: SuperJet 100; cell phones on airplanes; 787 real-time monitoring; Crikey

  1. The real time monitoring is new? I thought Airbus already had this on A330s. Surely Boeing would have had this way before the 787b

  2. Superjet 100 and Dornier 728: It is the first time that I hear that there is a connection between these two projects. I thought, the 728 was much smaller. Are there any proofs that one is based on the other?

      • Scott, the Superjet article is poor. The Superjet may bear superficial resemblance to the Do728, but that’s about it. I do not see much relevance of the Il-96 in this context either. Anyway, what is the author’s track record, or who is the author to begin with?

    • More like “eye of an octopus”.

      Scott, how much solid fact is behind that assertion?

  3. Re: Superjet (quoting from the article):
    “The second accident occurred in July 2013 when a Superjet 100 landing in Iceland did so without its landing gear because the automatic landing system failed to lower the landing gear.”

    The system failed to lower the gear? I don’t recall any autoland systems to do that for you. Now I could be mixing things up or the article doesn’t look as deep as it should.

    • I also have the strong feeling that the Superjet article is rather sloppy, even if the conclusion (that it is a commercial failure) is right.

      • I think my initial comment sounded a bit harsh It wasn’t intended that way. :/

        But I agree with you, marking the Superjet the mediocre success it is would be a reasonable tenor. I just don’t agree with giving the accidents a strong context of being the outcome of design errors. The role of the pilots is very relevant. Unfortunately.

        Now such accidents will always affect the PR value of especially a new plane, but an aircraft crashing because it was flown into mountains or one landing without the lowered gear because nobody lowered it is different from a clear technical shortcoming. Hence my pointer.

      • As far as I know it’s unfair to blame the Indonesia crash on the equipment. Nevertheless Aeroflot, the highest profile customer for the Superjet, really, really hate the plane. They are sending their initial batch of ten planes back to the manufacturer for replacement. I have never heard of that before. They also claim a handful of those planes were on their own responsible for 40% of the airline’s technical incidents in 2012. Another article here: http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-aeroflot-superjet-problems/24896698.html

    • conducting single engine out crosswind landings:
      The purpose of the exercise was to conduct a “low pass”, it adds.

      As the Superjet made its approach, and during the low pass, the landing-gear was extended, says the inquiry. The aircraft then executed a missed approach procedure and the landing-gear was retracted.

      But the Superjet then descended towards the runway and made contact with the landing-gear still raised.

      • Thanks for the extra information Uwe.

        “Surveillance tracks indicate that the aircraft had performed some 40 approaches to runways 11 and 20 overnight before the accident at 05:23.”

  4. “Cell Phones on Airplanes: There continues a debate over whether cell phones really have to be turned off for take-off and landing. This finally explains the technical issues of the cell phone and other electronic devices.

    Hmmm the stewardperson must have been working on the 787 computer system-

    LOt airlines had to cancel a flight to correct a computer fault by rebooting – it takes about 2 hours !!

    Even Microsquish Windoze reboots a bit faster and the MAC spinning pizza or beach ball doesn’t take that long !!

    • If cellphones could really interfere with the flight control or navigations systems, they would have to be banned from airplanes, no?
      I think the current ruling was born in the minds of insurance companies and lawyers. The fact that it is not practically enforceable creates a nice backdoor in case of post-crash liability lawsuits.

  5. Nevertheless Aeroflot, the highest profile customer for the Superjet, really, really hate the plane. They are sending their initial batch of ten planes back to the manufacturer for replacement. I have never heard of that before. They also claim a handful of those planes were on their own responsible for 40% of the airline’s technical incidents in 2012.

    Aeroflot took initial deliveries of a non-final configuration. Their plan from the very beginning was to return them to receive a final configuration. I don’t see anything wrong with everything going to plan there. AFAIK, most of the problems with initial service had to do with faulty error messages and other problems with air conditioning system, which of course was supplied by Liebherr, so pinning it on the Russian system like the laughable “Strategy Page” (!?) article does is hardly called for.

    The delays in production, in good part due to engine delays, pretty much closed Superjet’s best chances, with it entering service in worse global financial climate and increasingly facing new entrants rather than just legacy Embraer and Bombardier RJs, vs. whom it is an appealing product. Teething problems aside (common to most new platforms), if they can achieve successful operation with Aeroflot and Interjet, and optimize the production and support system, that seems a good basis to establish confidence in future programs, and vastly more successful than Chinese efforts which receive 10x the positive Western press.

    I don’t really know about that ‘Strategy Page’ source, it seems pretty dubious… As a whole it seems to provide just enough ‘factoids’ to convince an ignorant reader, while not really holding up to examination. Not to say the Superjet is an astounding success, but that article is just not credible. (That it mentions Western engines and avionics in Il-96 and then says “[but] nothing worked” is just disinformation, no Western engined Il-96 was ever built, due to US interference, so it was never given a chance to work). I’m just not sure of the reason to link to such a dubious source in the first place, it’s hardly ‘news’ of any sort, or even with any particularly amazing insight. The 2nd Superjet delivery to Interjet seems much more relevant.

    • When reporting on things abroad presententing a carefull selection of factoids to give the impression of irrationality or dumbness is a staple feature of the US imfluenced press.

      Some attribute this to lazy and careless reporting. I no longer think that this is true.
      ( Auric Goldfinger : Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.)

      • Uwe, it makes no sense to draw any conclusions about a country or its journalism based on the output of some iffy website that as far as I can tell may not even be American. I did find on their “about us” page that they are always looking for contributors, and they pay $20 per article, so maybe you could offer the site some alternative perspective if you don’t like what you read there. At any rate, the site does not appear to make any pretense of being involved in journalism so much as “analysis.”

        Frankly, I think the more embarrassing piece for American journalism was the NPR piece about the 787. The fact that they cover the return to service as though it was just happening is odd in itself. Then the first paragraph on the background of problems which offers a threadless bunch of 777 and 737 incidents, as though the writer did not know enough on the subject to properly form their Google search to find the 787’s own litany of issues for background. I cringe every time NPR covers aerospace because I respect them as much as any news organization out there, and yet when they look at aerospace they just seem to have a knack for revealing a major clueless streak. I’m sure it is because this particular area just isn’t that interesting to anyone on staff, but they would be better just not covering it at all.

        • chief editor James F. Dunnigan
          (born 8 August 1943) is an author, military-political analyst, Defense and State Department consultant, and wargame designer currently living in New York City.

          They reference the ColdWar propaganda endeavour “Radio Free Europe” as a site for sourcing factual material.

          Allow me to be thoroughly unconvinces by your arguments.

      • I would say the facts you present more or less make my argument (apart from the bit about my uncertainty that the site is American, I guess), but I suspect I will not convince you of my point, I am sorry to say.

      • Looking at the article and seeing the other recent articles I concluded it was from a male senior for who the cold war never ended.

        • gt62 :
          Some of the bloggers here seem to still be fighting WWII

          Nope – Russia was on our side during WW2-

          but by the late 40’s- early 50’s- it changed

          and when they put up sputnik – many many red faces on our side.

          So we tasked Wherner Von Braun ( formerly on the other side of WW2 ) to put up a satellite using a ” non – military ” rocket- and he did it in 90 days.

          … American orbital launch vehicle. Re-entry vehicle test booster and satellite launcher derived from Redstone missile. The Jupiter A version of the Redstone missile was modified with upper stages to test Jupiter re-entry vehicle configurations. Von Braun’s team was ordered to ballast the upper stage with sand to prevent any ‘inadvertent’ artificial satellites from stealing thunder from the official Vanguard program. Korolev’s R-7 orbited the first earth satellite instead. The Jupiter C was retroactively named the ‘Juno I’ by Von Braun’s team…

    • I think the problems with the Superjet earlier this year resulting in a partial grounding were varied and extensive, including failure to deploy wing slats and landing gear. It’s true that Aeroflot decided the planes were not up to scratch even before they took delivery of them, hence the face-saving formula of light versus full specification and the swapping out of one for the other. Aeroflot appears to be showing major dissatisfaction for the plane.

      Which is a pity. I have a soft spot for Russian and Soviet airplanes and it’s nice to have a change from the Airbus/Boeing duopoly.

  6. Scott, when Dornier went bancrupt many aircraft companies took a look at Dornier’s books (both financial and technical), including russian and chinese companies, Bombardier and Boeing. None of the bought anything and therefore there isn’t any DO728 or DO928 in the air today. The Superjet looks a little bit like the DO928 though, maybe the russian engineers which looked into the technical books had mini KGB cameras… 😉

    • Just like the cold war “Concordski”. Anyone with the sligthest aerospace knowledge quickly sees they entirely different aircaft and it flew before the Corcorde. Designwise no more a copy then e.g. the F15ski is a Mig25 copy. But before 1990 anything innovative from Russia was inferior, irrelevant our must be copied. We were raised that way. The writer in the Superjet article apparently never left that line of thinking.

  7. Scott, this is the first time I – and many others here, it appears – hear any suggestion that the Superjet is nothing but a redressed Dornier 728. Is there any proof for that claim?

    Comparing the two side by side, I can’t see more than a passing resemblance…

    The vertical fin has a different configuration, as does the tail section, the cockpit windows, the whole foward section, the wingbox fairing, flap actuator fairings, doors, front gear configuration, engine pylons, pitot tube positions. While I can see that they’d be easy enough to mix up at the airport (just like the A300 and 767 can be mixed up if you’re not an enthusiast), I have no idea where the suggestion comes from that the SSJ is just a carbon copy of the 728.

    I can find just as many superficial similarities between the SSJ and the 728 as I can between the 728 and the CSeries or the E-Jets and the MRJ – or basically any other small twinjet.

    There’s also a discussion on a.net on the subject, with the consensus among those that seem to have some working knowledge of aircraft design being that they’re not related.

    As for the article – I stopped reading it when it seriously compared the effort put into the derivative Il-96 with the SSJ, spelling Airbus “AirBus”, and just generally dropping a few stereotypes about the Russian aviation industry (corruption!, poor workmanship!) without adding any research that goes beyond reading a few Wikipedia articles. I’m frankly surprised why Scott would even link to this.

    • I remember a History Channel show on the “Concondeski” which consisted of an extended interview with the Russian and British designers. The Brit knew the Russians were getting a lot of information on the Concorde design and its tradeoffs and they decided to ‘leak’ some dis-information, which dealt with the engines’ placement underneath the wing in a more conventional fashion. The Russians bit and their design was schedule impacted. Might have been the “Wings” channel.

      • ROFL
        WP:EN cite:
        History (originally The History Channel from 1995 to 2008) is a American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by A+E Networks, a joint venture between the Hearst Corporation and the Disney–ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company.

        History Channel tends to prefer target audience feel good moments to researched facts.
        Whatever the truth you won’t find it in History Channel programming.
        Same goes for all the other “breathless factfinding” productions.

  8. I think the Superjet has to be matured the usual way; get out the child deceases, stretch it to reduce CASM/ attract new customers, real good higher BPR engines of CFM, RR, PW or GE, advanced wingtip devices etc. I think that was clear 5yrs ago. I hope additional funding / persistence will be there.


    If Oil stays high, so will be Russian finances and demand for cheap fuel efficient aircraft to span the large russian distances will get stronger.

    • I believe in the near future Sukhoi are planning to go ahead with a limited stretch of SSJ to ~115 pa which will use an uprated SaM engine, as well as a long-range variant also still using SaM, and it also has some prospect as a ‘private’/business jet. The 130 seat SSJ stretch concept seems to have evolved into a distinct model to enter production after MS-21, using GTF and a derivative of PD-14. The decision not to pursue a 130-seat stretch of SSJ suggests a more truly optimized platform also integrating more modern design and construction.

      I get the feeling that SSJ will not be receiving an immediate upgrade, it has it’s existing order book, and there is reasonable prospects for a few more customers (as well as follow up orders) given the actual competitors in it’s class that can be purchased now: non-GTF E-Jets and CRJ (Mitsubishi seems busy enough with certification and dealing with their current order book), so just getting the existing system to an optimal operating tempo is their goal for now. That Ilyushin Finance will be going forward with a Superjet/CS300/MS21 portfolio shows they are doing what’s needed to sell a total package (that Superjet fits within).

      Depending on how they want to stage their projects, it looks likely that SSJ would be re-winged and re-engined and otherwise “NextGen-ified” after (or perhaps, simultaneous with) the 130-150 seat project (following MS-21), and with next gen engines and wings, it should compare very well vs. GTF E-Jets as well as CS100.

  9. Uwe :
    Well, (over)night is misleading.
    Keflavik doesn’t have “night” that time of year.
    There is a dusky period at midnight.
    Would that environment “help” with fatique?

    Not really. Your body clock still says it is night. And 5 a.m. is still 5 a.m. The Russians had been there long enough to adapt to local time so, fatigue may very much be a factor. After 40 approaches I would be “dizzy” not least in the middle of the night, be it a dark or a bright night.

  10. …..Just like the cold war “Concordski”. Anyone with the sligthest aerospace knowledge quickly sees they entirely different aircaft and it flew before the Corcorde….

    Uhhh the TU144* had some resemblance re engine location to the XB-70 Valkerie- which flew many years before , and eventually reached Mach 3+ before a fatal crash during a photo op flight when a chase plane whacked it.

    Of course the XB-70 was designed as a bomber- but look at the semi delta shape- the engine placement, etc the last b-70 flight was made about the same time as the first TU144 prototype flight.

    from wiki
    The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was the prototype version of the proposed B-70 nuclear-armed deep-penetration strategic bomber for the United States Air Force’s (USAF) Strategic Air Command. Designed by North American Aviation in the late 1950s, the Valkyrie was a large six-engined aircraft able to fly Mach 3+ at an altitude of 70,000 feet (21,000 m), which would have allowed it to avoid interceptors, the only effective anti-bomber weapon at the time. . . .

    As a young squirt of an engineern in then late 50’s- I was involved in a proposal for a rapid start – ‘ alert pod ” on the b-70 powered by a turbine and attached under the belly. the concept was to push one main button on the nose landing gear. which would power up the engines, hydraulics, etc allowing a less than 15 minute alert to takeofff. The pod would be detached as the plane started to taxi- so it had its own gear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *