Russian airlines operating the domestically built Sukhoi Superjet 100 may have to ground the planes in the near future as Western sanctions on Russia have made it problematic to service and maintain the engines that were built in partnership with a French manufacturer, business daily RBC reported on Monday.
The daily says several Russian airlines reported maintenance issues, with one of them claiming that if they are not resolved, flights might be suspended as soon as this autumn.
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 – a regional jet with 98 passenger seats – was developed in cooperation with more than 20 of the world’s leading aircraft engineering companies, according to the manufacturer, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
Russia’s transport ministry says around 150 planes are currently in operation in the country. Recent sanctions prohibit the import of aircraft parts into Russia, among other restrictions.
Superjet’s SaM146 turbofan engines are made by PowerJet, a joint venture between France’s Safran Aircraft Engines and Russia’s United Engine Corporation. PowerJet – which is also responsible for after-sales maintenance – stopped dealing with Russian companies due to the sanctions, RBC says.
As many other components of the liner are also made abroad, the Superjet is likely to stop flying due to “the absence of such mundane things as wheels and brakes, various sensors and valves,” RBC quotes its sources close to UAC.
According to RBC, one airline has suggested that the UEC should be made responsible for Superjet engine repairs and spare parts.
The Russian government said in March that it would accelerate the production of aircraft using exclusively Russian-made parts. However, according to media reports, a 100% Russian-made Superjet is likely to go into production in 2024 at best.
UAC parent company Rostec issued a statement on Monday, saying that Russia has “practically everything” to service the Sukhoi Superjet and its engines. According to the state corporation, the issues caused by sanctions are being addressed, and the aircraft will continue to be used, TASS reports.
Russian airlines increased their reliance on the Superjet after foreign leasing companies demanded that Airbus and Boeing planes used in Russia be returned. According to the Transport Ministry, about 10% of all foreign aircraft used by Russian carriers were seized abroad. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing Russian airlines to re-register foreign-owned airplanes and continue flying them domestically.
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