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17 Mar, 2023 10:53

Lack of tiny part may ground Russia’s Superjet fleet – RBK

Sanctions have resulted in a shortage of US-made spark plugs needed for the engines, industry sources say
Lack of tiny part may ground Russia’s Superjet fleet – RBK

Sanctions targeting Russian aviation have led to a lack of American-made spark plugs needed for the engines of Russia’s Sukhoi Superjet airliner, the business daily RBK reported on Friday, citing representatives at six airlines operating the plane.

The shortage could lead to grounding some Superjets “in the near future and a gradual cessation of flights of the entire aircraft fleet,” according to a letter sent by Vladimir Panfilov, the first deputy director at Russian regional airline IrAero. He sent the letter to the trade ministry last month.

“This jeopardizes passenger flights, including socially significant ones,” Panfilov warned.

The lack of critical parts may also have a major impact on flying rates, according to IrAero’s chief executive, Yury Lapin, as cited by the media.

“However, everything is all right at the moment, as we have enough spare spark plugs not to reduce our flights,” Lapin added, noting that several other carriers are dealing with the issue as well.

The Russian air industry currently faces a serious challenge due to the spark plug deficit, Azimuth Airlines chairman Pavel Udod told RBK, while two sources close to Yakutia Airlines said that the carrier no longer has any new spark plugs in stock.

“We hope Russian industry resolves the issue as soon as possible,” the sources said, warning that the airline would have to stop operating its jets if there is no resolution.

Separately, Telegram channel Aviatorshchina reported that Rossiya Airlines, which is part of the Aeroflot group, is also being affected. The carrier, which is the largest operator of the Superjet, is expected to keep only 30 of its 76 aircraft in service.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100, a regional aircraft designed by Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, made its maiden flight in 2008, while the first commercial flight was carried out in April 2011. The jet is equipped with engines produced by a joint venture between French Safran and Russian state-owned United Engine Corporation.

Before sanctions were applied against Russian aviation, spark plugs for the SaM-146 engines were manufactured by the US-based company Unison Industries.

In March 2022, PowerJet, the Russian-French manufacturer of the SaM146 engines, said it would suspend its engine maintenance and repair services.

The United Engine Corporation expects an analogue of the US-made spark plug to appear on the Russian market as soon as this year.

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