Next Sukhoi Superjet is a 75 seater

By Bjorn Fehrm

February 7, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: The President of Sukhoi Civil AirCraft (SCAC), Alexander Rubtsov (who is also the Sales and Marketing Manager of the civil aircraft division of Russia’s United Aircraft, UAC), told Flight Global at the Singapore Air Show there has been a decision to develop a 75-seat version of Sukhoi SuperJet (SSJ).

Sukhoi and United Aircraft have studied whether to develop a larger or smaller version of the SSJ. A Russian order for 100 of the smaller model tipped the decision to the 75-seat model.

Figure 1. SSJ100/95 from Cityjet wetleased to Brussels Airlines. Source: SCAC.

A smaller Superjet

In the original Superjet plans, three versions of the aircraft were planned: 65-, 75- and 95-seat versions. Finally, the 95-seat version was realized as SSJ100/95.

Sukhoi and UAC have explored larger versions of the SSJ100/95 for some time. Up to 120-seat versions have been considered. But the competition in the 100+ seat segment has become harder.

The CSeries, with advanced engines, aerodynamics and structures, is now operational both in a 100- and 130-seat version. Within weeks, the 100-seat version of the updated Embraer E-Jet, the E-190E2, is starting service with Norwegian carrier Widerøe. The 120-seat E-195E2 follows next year.

Building a competitive larger version would call for an injection of new technologies into the SSJ, to come to the operational costs of these aircraft. In the sector below 95 seats, there is no new technology aircraft in the market until the Mitsubishi MRJ70 and Embraer E-175E2 arrives 2021.

The present competition is the Embraer E-175 and the Bombardier CRJ700 and 900. Of these, the SSJ has the better cabin comfort (Figure 2) and engines which are half a generation newer (the SAFRAN-Saturn SaM146 is 10 years younger in design than the GE CF34-8 which is used on the E-175 and CRJs).

Figure 2. SSJ cross-section with E-Jet overlaid in yellow and CRJ in red. Source: SCAC.

So, a shortened version of the SSJ would have an easier market than a stretched version.

Markets and challenges

The largest market for 75-seat regional jets is the US regional jet market. Embraer delivered 79 E175 76-seaters during 2017, of which 71 went to US regional airlines and eight to KLM Cityhopper in Europe.

The SSJ100/75 would be the right size to compete in the US market. The cabin of the original SSJ100/75 was 3.5m shorter than the SSJ100/95, which Interjet has equipped with 93 seats at a generous 34-inch seat pitch.

The loss of 3.5m means the loss of four rows of five seats each, bringing the capacity down to 73 seats at a 34-inch pitch. With modern slimline seats at 30-inch pitch and some reduction of galley space not needed at 76 seats, the cabin could take a three-class 76 seat US Scope clause-compliant cabin.

Ideally, SCAC doesn’t shorten the SSJ100/75 the originally planned 3.5m but rather 3m, giving the three-class layout some more space. The shorter fuselage would lower the empty weight by about three tonnes. According to Rubtsov, SCAC is studying whether to build a new smaller wing or to apply the engines from the MRJ or E-175E2, the Pratt & Whitney GTF in its 56-inch fan version.

While this will give weight savings and lower engine fuel consumption, it will delay the versions entry into service. The present wing only has 10% lower wingloading than the E175 and the same wingloading as the MRJ70. So a new wing is questionable. New engines would give about a 10% fuel consumption saving, but the question is what their weight would mean for the present US Scope clause limit of 86,000lbm Max Take-Off Weight. Would an aircraft with upgraded engines have weight margin left for adequate range?

The real challenge for the SSJ100/75 is not the cabin, wing or engines, however. Nor is it the fuel consumption or operating costs in general. Though Interjet has been generally happy with Service and Support from SCAC (there have been reports of recent engine spare parts issues), we have no reports from the other Western operator of the Superjet, Cityjet.

It will require the experience of a number of Western SSJ operators over several years to tell whether SCAC can deliver, service and support a regional jet to the level where it can compete in the US market.

45 Comments on “Next Sukhoi Superjet is a 75 seater

  1. The engine has more or less the same sfc as the CF34, so it’s old now. I guess it is too expensive to increase trust in the present engine, so they can only shrink the Aircraft which of course is a disaster. Will the Russians be the first to succesfully shrink an aircraft? There is only one market which is in the US and they will not buy this plane, they will continue with 700s and 175s. The Russian market is low yield and will not support this Aircraft without subsidies. It’s like the HS146/Avro RJ, a keen subsidised factory but no market.

    • Both GE and Powerjet/SAFRAN report the TSFC of the engines. The CF34-8 is at 0.68 lb/lbf/hr and the SaM146 at 0.629 at 35kft and cruise speed. There is an 8% difference, almost the size of the diff between the SaM146 and the GTF 56″ engine. So where do you get the equal TSFC from?

  2. Hello Bjorn

    PW1200G fan dia 56″ fan
    Sam146 fan dia 48.2

    Don’t know for nacelle clearance, but changing engine can lead to
    – change the nacelle and thrust reverser
    – change the pylon (and adjust it for the proper clearance)

    Can it be lighter at engine level ?

    Best regards

    • Hi Poncho,

      the SaM146 has a mixed nacelle. it makes the whole powerplant heavier, it also improves the TSFC. But is it worth it for a regional jet? The PW GTF in a short nacelle could be close in weight, but is it worth all the job for 10% fuel improvement?

      • If the aim is to break into the US market might it not need a P+W engine to gain operator confidence?

        • I don’t think any US operators is going to risk buying an aircraft that has iffy support when they have solid established suppliers.

          • Perhaps Boeing should purchase the SSJ project from Sukhoi and make it a proper C-Series competitor?

            Just a thought….

          • As the SJ is going the other direction, it looks like no one wants to take the C on.

  3. If they evolve the wing further, do a cost and weight reduction and have a competition between the GE Passport, PW800 and BR725 derivative Engines for under wing installation it might also be a great biz jet besides being within US Scope clause 86,000lbm Max Take-Off Weight. GE has to do an under wing version of it anyway for the B-52’s. So an irony would be for the SSJ75 and B-52’s to share Engines…

    • We need another business jet and one that runs well outside the normal support area from a regional?

  4. Glad to see the Russians acknowledge and respect the US people’s pilots’ unions—and the sacrosanct scope clause. And, as I’ve previously noted, echoing Stalin’s Order #227: “Not one step back!” (re: the scope clause).

    • the Stalin’s order thing is getting old. how about posting something other than a political troll?

      • Sorry, but it’s an appropriate restatement for a Russian jet with Soviet roots!

        • So that rules out Sikorsky too ? Does that mean anything with Russian links, no matter how far back, is not worth considering, yet Von Braun is in ?

        • Please keep the political stuff to Aviation week comments where they flourish.
          This site is still pretty clean and engineering/operations focused and most of want it to stay that way even when commenting Russian design options and selections of aero/structures/avionics/systems/powerplants.

  5. The sub-100 seat segment is – except for some scope clause caused regions – more or less dead, isn’t it? Shrinking a dedicated 100-seat aircraft into a 75-seat aircraft is the best receipe for fail. The SSJ-100 never was a “regional jet”, it is a small-scale mainline jet.
    The TSFC in honours, I assume that most operators will rather look for lifetime cost, that is procurement and maintenance. Tough to beat GE on that.

    • >The sub-100 seat segment is – except for some scope clause caused regions – more or less dead, isn’t it?

      Could be, Delta, American, and United have all negotiated (presumably lower) rates for pilots flying aircraft such as the Embraer 190, CS100, and CS300 (www.mba.aero/wp-content/uploads/Changing-Scope-Environments-July-11-AAC.pdf). These agreements will probably let the mainlines fly these “super regional” aircraft at lower cost and without any range or block time restrictions. This will tend remove incentive to artificially chop down a 100 seater so it can be flown by their regional partners. Depending on how contracts have been negotiated it may allow the same pilot to fly different aircraft in the same day getting paid by the type flown. This will create a pipeline of new pilots for the larger types.

      But even ignoring all that and assuming the market exists and the SSJ75 gets done, Embraer has the 175E2 set to go which will be right sized for the 75 seat market and by then possibly backed by Boeing.

      So no, I don’t see the rational for the SSJ75.

      • Isnt the rational shown in the graphic, the 5 across seating ?

        No one wanted glass screen smart phone till Steve Jobs ‘decided’ thats what the public were missing. Same went for wide bodies, Boeing had to convince the airlines they wanted it . Sure its not a huge advance, but customer perception is an important marketing tool.

      • “I don’t see the rational for the SSJ75.”

        Not everything is rational !
        But this is the US Regionals problem

        ” total 526 orders booked by the MRJ and E2 programs combined, 250, or just under half are to U.S. regionals subject to scope clauses under which they cannot take delivery.”

        This is for 76 seaters which are too heavy. Its highly likely that the 175E2 will be cancelled as the weight limit is being confirmed not lifted in pilot negotiations.

        For a very good background to previous and current Scope limits see this
        https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/us-scope-clauses-detailed-look-past-present-future-courtney-miller

        • Hum, you may be right. The SSJ is a very light aircraft. Using Wikipedia numbers a 86,000MTW SSJ/75 that has an empty weight 3 tons under that of the SSJ/100 loaded with with 75 passengers (@225lb each) would still be able to load 21,000lb of fuel (vs 28,000 for the SSJ100).

          Would probably be a useful (and pleasant) aircraft.

    • Then, what would one use to serve markets that have more demand than a Beech 1900 but less than a E190 E2/MRJ90/CS100? That is a 500% difference in term of capacity from one end to another

  6. With the unpredictability/volatility of Russia/USA relations wouldn’t a) swapping the current engine for one the US could impose export restrictions on and/or b) basing your market assessment on having the US as your key or essential target market be an unreasonably risky approach for Sukhoi?

    • Pretty much if not totally the only market for 76 seater.

      Anyone else is going to run a 100 -110 seat jet at the very least as these are highly restrictions and only US scope clause allows them to exist.

    • Most likely they will try to offer customers 2 different Engines, one cheaper Russian from a military core Engine, like the Mig-29 Klimov RD-33 with a SaM-146 scale down LP system and the other might be PW, GE or RR if they have something ready.
      Both PWA and RR has provided the Russian Engines since the Twin Wasp on the Li-2 and the RR Nene for the Mig-15, so my bet is that the Germans will offer a BR710 type of under wing Engine if they pay up front for 100 Engines. The Germans can just open the Russian natural gas stream a bit more and have the down payments done.

      • If you are only losing 2 rows of seating, no engine manufacturer is going to do major changes to existing engine, just derate , if that.
        Doesnt follow that BR710 ( which has been a wholly RR project since 2000, although developed in their German factories) is going to power a smaller version of the Superjet ( its last civil airliner was the B717/MD95).
        Marginal projects dont pass a business case and the money is better spent on improving the engine for the high end business jets it is used for.

        • If the Russians pay for it and orders a few hundread you don’t need too worry. I agree that seldom does a shortened fuselage becomes a success. The 737-500/-600, 747SP and B720, the A318 is the most clear proof of that. Still stranger things have happened.

  7. There is too much political risk that means their is too much financial risk for this to be used in the West without deep discounts. Those discounts will cripple an already weak company unless the Russian government supports them. That support means more political risk. This looks like the only real opportunity to sell this plane is those under the influence of Russia.

  8. Kind of surprising that the older SSJ can get under the 86K MTOW limit and the MRJ and 175E2 were not designed for that. What makes them so heavy? Do they just have extra structural weight for more range, or do the bigger engines and landing gear do them in on weight?

    • Well the MRJ 70 (which can seat up to 80) comes in at 88,626lb so only 2626lb over. I would guess it could be certified at 86,000 and still have a useful range with seating for 76.

      At 98,767lb the 175E2 is a different story. Looks like it carries a weight penalty allowing the stretch to the 195E2.

      • So the options if the 86K limit holds, may be three aircraft. The older E175, an MRJ70 with the newer GTF engine, perhaps by 2021, or an SSJ 75 by ?

        • And if China can get their ARJ21 actually working. Its MTOW seems to be roughly equal to MRJ70’s

          • Its in service but seems to more limited service than we would expect in west.
            https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/chengdu-airlines-puts-arj21-on-regional-route-444206/

            Chengdu Air is actually owned by Comac. 90 seater MRJ90, a closer equivalent to the ARJ21 is 39,600 kg.

            The basic B717 as an MD95 was around 50,000kg.
            ARJ21 lost 10,000kg with its 5m less fuselage, newer engines and newer Antonov designed wing ?

            The MTOW can be played around a bit with deactivating some fuel tanks, especially the wing/fuselage centre section

        • I am hoping for an incremental increase in the scope limit to 90K or so, but I am not going to hold my breath. The 50 seat RJ’s are on the way out and 70-90 seat RJ’s are the future. For years the railroads were required to have a fireman on board and we all remember the early jet airliners had a flight engineer, times have changed and so should old regulations.

  9. This strikes me as an odd choice, considering the larger cross-section of the SSJ. The Superjet 100/95 is already a very short aircraft, and shrinking it by 3 metres or more could create an A318-like situation – too much surface for too little usable floor space. Also, by the time a Superjet shrink could be in service, the E175-E2 and the MRJ will also be certified, and the original E175 will still be around as a scope clause-fitting aircraft with immense market penetration in the US. This does not even take into account the ever increasing sanctions regime between the US and Russia.

    In my opinion, going for a stretch into CS100 territory, updating the cockpit systems to achieve some level of commonality with the MC-21, and then selling to European, South American and Central Asian customers would be a far more realistic strategy. I am not seeing United Aircraft Corporation selling a single commerical airliner to a North American customer in the next decade.

    • Mexico is in North America. Interjet is a Mexican airline. Therefore, a North American airline has already ordered it.

      • And where, until recently, very happy with it, so are their pax. The question now is are the current parts issues a blip or a blight?

    • ” I am not seeing United Aircraft Corporation selling a single commerical airliner to a North American customer in the next decade.”

      Mexico is part of North America, and Interjet of Mexico already operates the SSJ-100.

  10. Shake down the oligarchs (lock them in a posh hotel Saudi style, until they cough up a tiny fraction of what they stole)for a billion or so each.Russian engineers will soon catch up.

  11. The existing SSJ has a large portion of western equipment
    Honeywell- APU
    Parker -hydraulic system
    Liebherr- ECS ( essentially the a/c)
    Safran- landing gear
    Goodrich -brakes
    intertech- fuel system
    Hamilton Sundstrand- electrical system
    Thales -avionics
    passenger cabin and fittings installed in Venice, Italy( for the Mexican ones)

  12. To Readers looking for an Edit option for your comments, IT tells me a Plugin has been installed. Someone want to test it out? It functions for about 5 minutes after you post, apparently.

  13. An-148 crash could put an end to that program. Some customers are supposed to be considering abandoning it for Superjet. With new engine shrink option, all the more so. It’s role was to sustain Russian suppliers vs high-Western content Superjet, but with MS-21 and eventually CR929 coming on line Russian suppliers should not need to rely on An-148. UAC said they plan to invest almost 1/4 billion in An-148 which seems wasted money to me, when they could invest that in increasing Russian content in new engine Superjet with actually good sales prospects. I expect SSJ-75 could debut new Russian systems which could carry over to future SSJ-100 re-engined update. Commonality with MS-21 would help create even more attractive combined offering.

Leave a Reply

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