Sunday, 24 July 2011

Superjet grounded for days

The hyped up Superjet set to take Russian state airline Aeroflot into the future has had a bumpy take off.

Problems with air conditioning have left the first Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ) for regular use grounded for days.

Superjet’s first Aeroflot flight

The SSJ made its maiden registered flight in Aeroflot colours on June, 16, taking VIP passengers including vice PM Sergei Ivanov, Aeroflot general director Vitaly Savelyev and several other ministers to the St Petersburg economic forum.

However, the VIPs did not notice some technical hitches that limited the plane’s spell in the air.

The plane was grounded for 17 days in its first month with Aeroflot, sources close to the airline and the plane’s manufacturer Sukhoi told Vedomosti.

The plane has problems with air conditioning system, particularly with a sensory element that has been sending false signals about system failure.

However, the fault that could only be determined after long diagnostics of the plane does not affect the flight’s safety, the source said.

Superjet is back in the air

The plane took to the skies again on Saturday and eased into its new schedule. It made six flights on July 17 and 18 – from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod, St Petersburg and Ufa.

The plane completed 60 flights in a month, 101 hours in the air. Aeroflot was hoping for twice as much time in the air, sources said.

Despite being grounded for long periods of time, Aeroflot kept making the leasing payments of $165,000 a month and paid for the repairs.

The bills will later be sent to Sukhoi, keeping with standard global practice.

SSJ has only been put into operation recently. One more SSJ has been in use with Armavia since April. There it made 216 flights (531 hours) and spent only 13 days on the tarmac.

There have been no problems with the aircraft, an Armavia representative said. The plane is used on flights to Athens, Venice, Rome and some Russian cities.

The hopes are that SSJ will take over the baton from TU-134. President Dmitry Medvedev demanded that the old Soviet era aircraft be taken out of service soon after one of them crashed near Petrozavodsk.

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