The Sukhoi SuperJet Continues to Struggle.
Over the weekend the Moscow Times online reported an incident involving a Sukhoi SuperJet 100. Apparently no one was hurt, but no additional information is available at this time. Then this morning we learned that the first SSJ-100 customer, the Armenian airline Armavia, wouldn’t continue it’s order for additional planes beyond the first one it’s been using since 2011.
Now there’s a story from RIANovosti that states not only will Armavia not extend additional orders, they are in fact *returning* the plane they have! Although no official reason has been cited by Sukhoi other than “financial difficulties” for Armevia, the Armenian airline is quoted in the report as saying:
“We consider it inexpedient to purchase the aircraft because it required repairs during its first year in service,” a company spokeswoman said.
While it does seem unlikely that this particular high profile sale loss can be directly attributed to the Jakarta SSJ-100 crash, there have been previous reports of other maintenance problems around this early model jet type.
So how do you return a jet? A well used jet, at that. In this case it seems Sukhoi currently has possession of the physical aircraft since Armavia sent it back for service and is refusing re-delivery. But will the airline get it’s money back? Will it have to pay repair fees (which they deny owing) since the jet was in service and then fixed? It’s an predicament certainly. We’ll have to see how both Armavia and Sukhoi fare after all is said and done here. Hopefully for Armavia they have a clause in their contract; being the first SSJ customer and all.
Repairing The Future
Of course we here at Flyopia were initial fans of the SuperJet. So what this means for the aircraft and Russia’s fledgling (re-) new commercial aircraft industry is anyone’s guess. They did close quite a few orders at Farnborough, and have continued to make additional sales after the air show. But whether they have made enough money to function long-term remains to be seen. The Indonesian crash did not help their cause (although it hasn’t so far knocked them out), but if they can’t repair their image and their maintenance problems, their future may now finally be in jeopardy. Airlines tend not to like beta testing with their customers lives.