[Avionics Magazine 12-27-2016] The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (FATA) has issued a major new Airworthiness Directive impacting the in-service fleet of Superjet100 (SSJ100) aircraft. According to the AD issued on Friday, Dec. 23, cracks in the lugs of the upper stabilizer and lower bracket attachment bands were discovered on an SSJ100 operated by IrAero.
SSJ100. Photo: SCAC.
Under the AD, airlines operating the SSJ100 are required to perform inspection of the stabilizer bracket attachment bands prior to “departures from the base airports” of the aircraft. SSJ100 operation must be terminated if a crack or crack apprehension is discovered during the maintenance check.
FATA is requiring detailed inspections of the stabilizer joint straps and bracket attachment bands to be performed daily. There is also a new requirement for weekly inspections of the lugs of the stabilizer upper and lower bracket attachment bands accompanied by pictures of the stabilizers and reports created for each inspection.
While FATA did not explicitly state that this AD leads to an immediate grounding of the global in-service fleet, the new AD requires aircraft operations to be terminated if maintenance checks reveal cracks or crack apprehension.
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co. (SCAC) issued a statement Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, following the publishing of the AD last week. The airframe manufacturer says it has completed inspections of the entire in-service fleet, and aircraft that have passed the inspection have resumed commercial operations.
"As of today, all aircraft have now undergone the inspection, performed by SCA jointly with the airlines operating this type. Following the results of the inspection, the defect is not of a systemic nature and can be eliminated within a few days. Examination has confirmed that the issue is not a critical situation: the node features a multi-level redundant structure and has a safety margin which is more than twice the operational loads," SCAC said in the statement.
The company has also developed a plan for the replacement of nodes on the aircraft with the defect identified to be completed by January.
Since its entry into service in 2011, the Superjet has suffered several setbacks, including most notably a 2012 crash into a mountain in Indonesia that killed 45 people, although an investigation ultimately determined the crash to be caused by pilot error.
FATA’s AD comes after the Sukhoi Superjet 100 Long Range (SSJ100LR) recently earned type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
The grounding reportedly lead to the cancellation of 21 flights by Aeroflot—Russian national carrier and the country’s largest SSJ100 operator—on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. Aeroflot has now resumed commercial flights with the aircraft.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016, Mexican airline Interjet, also an operator of the SSJ100, said it is complying with the AD and working with SCAC to continue operations of the aircraft.
“We would like to inform that the Russian Aviation Authority has issued an airworthiness directive, number AD 2016-322-02, which requires all operators to inspect their SSJ100 aircraft. These directives are regularly issued by the authorities as a precautionary measure for operational safety. Interjet is working alongside the manufacturer in full compliance of the directive to continue operations. With support from the manufacturer, SCAC, and in line with the regulations of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, we are working on this situation and reaffirming Interjet’s commitment to meet national and international regulations,” Interjet said in the statement.