What do you do if you want your aircraft to gain Western Acceptance?
Use their systems. (SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE TEXT)
The inside of the EASA approved Sukhoi Superjet 100 confuses you at first. It has the size of the A320 cockpit, but the display aspect ratio of the Airbus A380’s. The navigation display eerily has the same symbology as the Airbus aircraft, has the side sticks, the same flap lever, similar cockpit layout, and yet something feels different. The Russian engineer seated beside me.
The all-Thales supplied cockpit of the SSJ100 is simply brilliant, in the least to say, especially considering that the airplane is Russian. There is no cockpit clutter, there are no analog instruments, there is no poorly finished panel: there are simply 2 things: a brilliant airplane, and a Russian Engineer who can’t speak English. Had it not been for him, you would have thought it to be an A360, if there was something like that.
I managed to speak to Panyukov Pavel, who was a very friendly gentleman on board the aircraft. He believes that the SSJ100 makes a difference right from the start, and is all about savings: Acquisition to Maintenance. The figures never came though.
That is probably why the Russian airplanes don’t sell well: the sellers aren’t aggressive enough. No figures, and then when asked for a comparison with the competition, pat comes the reply, “We don’t compare. we have to evaluate on an airline route basis”. Noone was inside the SSJ100, except for me, Pavel, and the Russian engineer.
The seating on the airplane is old compact school: 5 abreast, with 3 on the right and 2 on the left. Seats were very comfortable. And the feats performed by their stellar air force pilots were equally good. Question is: what does all this mean for an airline, a customer?
Firstly, there exists a market gap today, between the 70 seat ATR72/Q400 aircraft and the 180seat A320. The gap is very huge, a gap that isn’t closed much even by the 156 seat A319. The SSJ100 will do a good job of plugging that gap, in part, but the sales aggressiveness that others show simply lacks in the Sukhoi team. Their attitude is more on the lines of “the aircraft sells for itself”. Not quite; it doesn’t speak well.
An Airbus pilot will be at home with similar colour cockpit, similar sidesticks, similar tiller, similar thrust levers, similar everything. How much the exclusively made SaM146 engines and aerodynamic combination contribute in its fuel burn is for them to reveal tomorrow. Till then, enjoy the pics of the marvellous airliner.