Posted 17 марта 2023,, 13:52

Published 17 марта 2023,, 13:52

Modified 17 марта 2023,, 14:33

Updated 17 марта 2023,, 14:33

Aviators risk losing 150 Russian airliners

Aviators risk losing 150 Russian airliners

17 марта 2023, 13:52
It is not the engine, wing or landing gear that can decommission almost 150 Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) aircraft. Russian aviators have run out of stocks of American spark plugs for Russian-French SaM-146 engines installed on a domestic liner.

Yekaterina Maximova

The president of the Sheremetyevo Flight Crew Union, ex-pilot Igor Deldyuzhov explained to Novye Izvestia that with faulty spark plugs (there are two of them - one in each combustion chamber), the plane simply will not start.


"Spark plugs are used to start engines — they create a spark to ignite and maintain the combustion of the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. Gorenje But they are not involved all the time. At launch and during certain important periods of the flight. This is, for example, takeoff, landing, turbulence and when the crew turns on the anti-separation system. And the candles automatically work in turn", - Deldyuzhov briefly explained how the aircraft works in normal mode. 

And if the plane stopped starting, then the candles were simply changed. Now aviators are forced to save resources. 

"Technically, it is possible to switch so that only one candle works, that is, without automatic switching. If the candle does not work, the pilot stops the launch and puts the switch position on another candle. And at the same time, he notes this in the logbook. Upon arrival at another port, the engineering service looks and decides whether the aircraft with one candle can continue flying. There is such a thing as a list of the minimum necessary equipment", - adds ex-pilot Igor Deldyuzhov. 

But such flights cannot last long. "One candle went out of order, flew on the second remaining one. The second one is out of order and that's it. Deldyuzhov continues. - It will have to be removed from the side, which stands at the fence and which is being disassembled for spare parts. We do not produce these candles.  Like other consumables. For example, fuel filters. They are not there either. But they can be removed, washed with solvent, blown and put back on. Just keep an eye on him more often so that he doesn't get clogged. Otherwise, the fuel will stop flowing and the engine may turn off right in flight. And you can't think of anything with candles, you can't do it". 

The "candle" problem of the Superjet 100 drew the attention of the tg-channel Aviatorschina. 

"Last spring, the manufacturer of SaM-146 engines for SSJ-100 aircraft, the PowerJet company (a joint venture of the French Safran Aircraft Engines and the "daughter" of the Rostec United Engine Corporation UEC—Saturn), due to EU sanctions, stopped the supply and support of its power plants in Russia, suspending their repair, as well as delivery of spare parts and consumables to the Russian Federation. Among them are spark plugs, which were produced by the American company Unision Industries for the SaM-146 engines for the PowerJet. Direct purchases from it and deliveries are also not possible now because of sanctions. For the last 11 months, the airline's candle needs have been provided by UEC-Saturn from its stock. But now it's over. There is nowhere else to take them — none of the suppliers can supply American candles for SaM-146, and there is no alternative on the market yet", - tg-channel Aviatorschina reports. 

Aviators should change candles, based on the manufacturer's recommendations, every 1 thousand flight cycles. In practice, one candle is enough for 2-3 thousand cycles, after which they fail due to erosion and wear of the central electrode and semiconductor.

"A year ago, Rostec assured that Russia has almost everything necessary for servicing the Superjet 100, including power plants, and the problematic issues that have arisen in connection with the sanctions are being resolved, adding that the state corporation is doing everything so that airlines can operate these aircraft smoothly. However, the most consumable component of the SaM-146 engine is still not import-substituted", - adds tg-channel Aviatorschina. 

On Friday, March 17, RIA Novosti, with reference to the press service of Rostec, said that the corporation does not see any problems.  There are no critical problems with the operation of Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft: the readiness of the fleet for flights is maintained at a high level, while import substitution of demanded components, including spark plugs, is underway, 

"Import substitution is underway across the entire range of products in demand, including spark plugs. At the moment, there are no critical problems with the operation of the Superjet fleet, its readiness is maintained at a high level, the aircraft demonstrate high flight performance - up to 370 hours per month", - Rostec said. 

Igor Deldyuzhov, President of the Sheremetyevo Flight Crew Union, claims that aviators, on the contrary, save Superjet resources.

"The pilots just complained that now the Sukhoi Superjet 100 has fallen. Aeroflot transferred all the Superjet to AK Rossiya. Now they fly very little, because of the shortage of spare parts, they are being held before the summer, when the flight network will be expanded," says Deldyuzhov. 

"Airlines indicate that because of this, they have high risks of flight delays, reducing the intensity of flights on Superjet 100 aircraft, stopping part of the fleet in the near future and gradually completely stopping flights of all SSJ-100s, which will jeopardize the implementation of the flight program for passenger transportation, including on socially significant routes", - adds "Aviatorschina". 

There are 148 SSJ100 units in the fleet of Russian companies in total. Almost half of the vessels are in operation at the Rossiya JSC (70 liners). 

Recall that back in 2007, the top management of the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (GGS) stated that up to 1800 Superjet 100 family aircraft would be sold in the next 20 years. "According to a conservative forecast, the GGS with the Superjet 100 regional aircraft expects to occupy 15% of the global civil aircraft market", - Maxim Grishanin, the financial director of the GGS, said 15 years ago. But the forecast turned out to be not conservative, but unreasonably optimistic.

And the day before, while the aviators were counting the remaining candles, the head of the Ministry of Transport Vitaly Saveliyev reassured the Russians: aviation is able to maintain the airworthiness of aircraft operated by domestic airlines for about ten years. He also denies the facts of cannibalization in civil aviation.

According to the head of the Ministry of Transport, Russian companies currently operate 1,167 aircraft. At the same time, none of them was completely disassembled for spare parts. According to Savelyev, it was possible to ensure the supply of components thanks to complex logistics and parallel imports.

Tatiana Filyova, co-owner and daughter of the founders of the largest Russian private airline S7, previously cited other data: at the beginning of 2022, the fleet of Russian airlines numbered approximately 1,270 aircraft. Of these, 840 (or 67%) are foreign vessels. And Boeing and Airbus are the main "workhorses" of aviation. By December of last year, for various reasons, about 800 aircraft remained available to aviators. The medium-haul fleet has decreased most noticeably (from 530 to 485 aircraft), 102 long-haul aircraft remained (123 at the beginning of 2022).