Russian-Made Engine For Superjet Completes Ground Tests

PD-8 engine on the test bench in Rybinsk
Credit: UEC

Russia’s United Engine Corporation (UEC) has completed the bench test of the first prototype of its PD-8 turbofan engine. 

The PD-8 is designed to power the SSJ-NEW, an all-Russian-component version of the Superjet (SSJ) 100 regional jet.

The ground tests took place at the facilities of the engine’s manufacturer UEC-Saturn in Rybinsk. The engineers made the necessary number of runs to record the basic parameters of the engine in all modes of operation, from idle to full throttle mode, UEC reported May 11.

“The test program included measuring of parameters to assess the thermal condition, durability and vibration resistance of engine parts and components during operation,” UEC Chief Designer Yury Shmotin explained. “Its air, oil and fuel systems have been checked.”

The completion of bench tests of the first prototype is an important step in the PD-8 development program. UEC now plans to continue the testing of individual engine components on autonomous stands as well as running the engine inflight aboard the Il-76LL flying laboratory at the Gromov LII Flight Research Institute near Moscow. 

Asked when the flight trials can start, UEC representatives told Aviation Week Network that this depended on the analysis of the bench test results. 

The PD-8 designers seem to be under pressure from the SSJ-100 manufacturer United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which in turn is trying to meet the deadline set by the Russian government to launch production of the new modified SSJ in 2024. UAC CEO Yuri Slyusar mentioned in April that the first PD-8 engines were expected to be delivered by the end of 2022 to enable the SSJ-NEW’s first flight in the first quarter of 2023. This means that UEC has just about half a year to complete the engine’s flight trials.

The PD-8 has a thrust of about eight tons and will replace the French-Russian SaM-146 engine installed on the current Superjets. The SSJ-NEW will also have its other Western-made components—including avionics, auxiliary power unit, electric and hydraulic systems, wheels, brakes, and interior—replaced by Russian-made products. Foreign suppliers suspended deliveries for the Superjet program after Western countries imposed sanctions in late February as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Denis Manturov admitted earlier that UAC had enough foreign components to assemble only 18 Superjets in its current configuration in 2022. Production of the type will resume only in 2024—when the SSJ-NEW is expected to be certified. 

Russian carriers now operate about 150 Superjets. The type suddenly became quite handy for international service since most of the Russian-operated Western-made fleet faces the risk of being seized abroad by foreign lessors.

According to UEC, the PD-8 is also viewed as an alternative engine for Beriev Be-200 amphibious aircraft, which are now powered by a pair of Ukraine’s Ivchenko D-436T turbofans. This is the second attempt to re-engine the Be-200. UAC initially suggested SaM146s, but this effort was stopped by the Russian government in 2019. The government’s contention at the time was that the amphibian, which had been purchased by the Russian military, couldn’t rely on an engine made with Western-made components.