Analysis: Sukhoi’s regional jet Superjet 100

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

18 January 2016, © Leeham Co: Russian aircraft have never succeeded in penetrating the Western market. But then they never really tried, until now. They were designed for the Soviet Union captive market, including the partner states that historically participated in or were friendly to the communistic system. One comes to think of China, Egypt, Libya, Cuba and Nicaragua.Interjet SSJThe Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) Superjet 100 (SSJ100) is the first Russian aircraft specifically designed from the outset to compete on a world market.

We analyse its basic design and performance in comparison to the market leader in 100 seat regional flying, Embraer’s E190.

Summary:

  • The SSJ100 is a half a generation younger design than the Embraer E190. It has modern aerodynamics, IMA-based modular avionics and an advanced Fly-By-Wire system.
  • The feedback-based Fly-By-Wire enables a tight aircraft design with low wetted areas.
  • The SSJ100 engines, SaM146, can best be described as a shrinked and cleaned up CFM56. They have the efficiency level of the E190’s CF34-10E.
  • The aerodynamics and engines combine to give the SSJ100 a single digit edge in fuel burn over the E190.

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Bjorn’s Corner: What did we learn in 2015?

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

08 January 2016, ©. Leeham Co: It’s the first Corner for the year and a look at 2015 as a year of technology advancements is due. 2015 will be remembered as the year when three clean sheet airliners passed important milestones. This will not happen for many years to come, so it will be worth to look at what they brought to world of aviation.

I’m thinking of Bombardier’s (BBD) CSeries getting certification for its first variant; the Mitsubishi MRJ doing its first flight’ and COMAC’s C919 being rolled out. Going forward, we will only have derivatives progressing through such milestones for years except for the roll-out of United Aircraft’s MS-21 single aisle airliner in 2016.

The Airbus A320neo was certified in 2015 and Boeing’s 737 MAX rolled out, but these are derivatives of in-service aircraft.

Embraer’s E-Jet E2 will roll out in February but this is a further development of today’s E-jet and Airbus A350-1000 is a variant of the in-service A350-900.

It will be a long time before we see so much new in a year, so it can be instructive to look at to what extent did these new aircraft bring the state of the art of airliners forward.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Russian aircraft industry.

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

22 August 2015, ©. Leeham Co: The Russian air show MAKS is taking place in Moscow, on the airfield of Zhukovsky, Southeast of Moscow. The town of Zhukovsky is called the Aero-City of the Russian federation. It houses not only a 17,800ft runway but also the center of the Russian aeronautical research and test knowledge around the gigantic airfield.

Just a couple of miles from the airfield lies the well-known Russian Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, TsAGI. It has been involved in designing the aerodynamics of all Russian aircraft, including the latest, the Sukhoi Superjet and Irkut’s new MC-21 competitor to the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo.

I have always been interested in the enigma of the Soviet and later Russian aeronautical industry. It had such a different structure to its western counterparts and has therefore struggled. The MC-21 is a good example. Ilyushin says they are working on MC-21, as does Yakolev and Irkut. Irkut says it is their aircraft, yet I had not heard of Irkut as a plane OEM before MC-21.

My household names for Russian airliners were Tupolev and Ilyushin with perhaps Yakolev for the smaller types. If we included Ukraine during the Soviet period, we could add Antonov as a known airliner OEM. But not Irkut. Yet today the main players doing new civil airliners are Sukhoi and Irkut, neither known for building airliners. How does this all fit together? Here is a try to sort it out. Read more

Boeing start applying “Standard Rules” to its and competitors’ aircraft.

By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction 

04 Aug 2015, © Leeham Co.: Boeing has for the last 20 years used an internal set of rules called Integrated Airplane Configuration ruleset, or IAC for short, for how it describes its own and competitors’ aircraft. These configuration rules, while comprehensive and consistently applied, have some problems, the most obvious is that they are 20 years old.

The IAC rules have filled an important role for Boeing: they have been the yard-stick how its different aircraft stack up but also how to value competitor’s aircraft. All aircraft in Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) have been configured and scrutinized with IAC.

The world of civil airliners have moved on since the creation of IAC in the early 1990s and there was time for an overhaul. This has now been done, after several years of internal work the new configuration rules are ready for prime time under the name of “Boeing Standard Rules”.

The most externally visual effect is that officially published seat information and performance data for Boeing’s aircraft change. The configuration ruleset dictates how everything is measured against a standardized set of parameters for each aircraft type and use.

We talked with Boeing’s Director for Product Marketing, Jim Haas, how to decipher the changes and how aircraft stack up before and after being “Standardized”. Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: What Paris Air Show taught us about East and West.

 

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

25 June 2015, © Leeham Co: With a few days in the office one can look back at Paris Air Show with a bit of perspective. So what are the impressions?

It was surprising how many orders Airbus and Boeing landed. Both had played down the expectations, telling that it will be a decent show but nothing close to record. Yet both were booking orders or commitments which were better than expected going into the PAS. Read more

Embraer gains 125 orders at half-year

John Slattery, chief commercial officer, Embraer Commercial Aircraft. Photo via Google images.

June 17, 2015, Paris Air Show, c. Leeham Co. With focus, as always, on Airbus and Boeing, and an airplane that neither exists nor is about to any time in the near-term (the Middle of the Market aircraft), little attention was paid to Embraer, currently the third of the Big Four commercial aircraft companies.

Embraer finished the Air Show (which essentially ends June 18 for the industrial sector), with 50 orders for the E1 and E2 E-Jets.

John Slattery, the chief commercial officer, said the company is ending the first half of the year with 125 firm orders for the two platforms. EMB now has 70 customers, headed for its target of 100 by 2017, and an important new customer joined the ranks, albeit through a used airplane transaction. Delta Air Lines will purchase 20 E-190s once a new pilot contract is ratified. The airplanes will be flown by Delta pilots for the mainline carrier, not one of its regional partners.

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Bombardier CS300 analysis vs A319neo, 737-7

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

March 29, 2015, c. Leeham Co: Bombardier’s big bet in the aeronautics sector, CSeries, is well into flight testing, now more than half way toward the 2,400 hours required by Transport Canada before certification can be granted. The first aircraft to be certified will be the smaller 110 seat CS100 but the market is most interested in the larger 135 seat CS300, which has 63% of present orders and commitments, Figure 1.

CS300

Figure 1. Cseries largest model, CS300. Source: Bombardier.

Bombardier’s new CEO, Alan Bellemare, told reporters last week that the CS100 would be certified during 2015 with entry into service slipping into 2016. The CS300, which is a direct challenger to Airbus’ A319neo and Boeing’s 737-7, should follow six months after CS100. With the CS300 in flight testing and going into service next summer, we decided to have a deeper look at CS300 and its competitors.

Summary

  • A319 and 737-7 are shrinks of the market’s preferred models, A320 and 737-8, and as such not the most efficient models.
  • The CS300 is the series center-point and it shows. The modern design beats the Airbus and Boeing designs on most counts.
  • Part of the modern concepts in CSeries is the well-conceived Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan.
  • PW’s 73 in fan version of the PW1000G for CSeries is slightly less efficient that the 81 in version for A319neo but CS300 lower weight makes sure this is more than compensated for.

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Is next airliner a single or dual aisle?

By Bjorn Fehrm

19 Feb 2015: There has been much speculation over the last weeks and months what Boeing is up to in the segment 200 to 250 seats, also know as the “757 replacement market“. The speculations over Airbus response are also vivid. One of the reasons is that apart from this segment the landscape of which civil airliners will be produced over the next 10-15 years is pretty much settled; Cseries is on final stretch of development, A320neo is flying while 737 MAX flies next year. A330neo will fly 2017 as will 787-10. A350-1000 start testing in 2016 with deliveries in 2017 and 777-9X flies 2019 with deliveries 2020.

Apart from an announcement by Russia and China that they will design a 250-280 seat widebody there is only the “757 replacement” segment which can result in a clean sheet approach from the major OEMs. Around this questions has arisen a lot of speculation about possible short and long term solutions. Having done a lot of checking of these alternatives with our proprietary model, we have learned that:

  • The 757 has an attractive capacity but is around 25% less efficient than the new generation of single aisle, A321neo or 737 MAX9, on the routes they can fly.
  • Airbus could stretch the A321 into something we called A321neoLR and indeed Airbus was working on it, it is now in the market as A321LR.
  • While 737 MAX9 limitations prohibited a response from Boeing we compared Airbus A321neoLR to what Boeing might come up with in their clean sheet design studies NSA (New Single Aisle) and NLT (New Light Twin)
  • Subsequently a 757 MAX was proposed but Boeing immediately declared that it does not work for them and we explained why.
  • Based on Boeing’s statement that the market is looking for something “a little larger than a 757” we looked into a 767 MAX with 767-200 as the airframe (it would be readily available from the KC-46 program) with GEnx-2B engines (from 747-8, they would fit). Once again it does not pass the first check, efficiency would not be much better than 757.

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