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Sukhoi Superjet flies on the wings of global collaboration

Sukhoi's first paperless airplane takes advantage of PLM software that keeps global engineering teams on the same page

When the Sukhoi Superjet 100 lifted off on its maiden flight this May 19, it was a technical triumph for Russia's Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company, and a feather in the cap for Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc., whose Teamcenter® software suite helped coordinate the efforts of 1,700 engineers and manufacturing specialists in more than eight locations comprising a world-class team of partners around the globe.

The SSJ100 is groundbreaking in many respects, among them being Russia's first paperless design and first to involve substantial international involvement. Siemens PLM Software's Teamcenter has contributed greatly to both of those landmark accomplishments. The company has 51,000 customers worldwide and 5.5 million licensed seats, and its Teamcenter solution is the world's most widely used Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system.

Whereas before, Russian industry had built airliners only for the internal market, the SSJ100 -- from the beginning-- has been intended for the global market. According to SCAC's most recent market forecast, the company expects to deliver over 1040 of its regional jets, with fully a third going to the highly competitive North American market, a third to Russia and the rest in Europe and elsewhere.

With its many customer-friendly features, the SSJ100 is poised to accomplish that objective. The aircraft offers unprecedented passenger comfort that has previously been available only on traditional large airliners. The SSJ100 has wider seats, wider aisles and larger storage bins than other aircraft in its class. It consumes 10 percent less fuel than its nearest competitor, has a 10 percent lower overall cost of ownership and has the lowest price in its class.

To gird itself for this global competition, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company invested hugely to re-equip itself with 50 new advanced numerically controlled machines, automated panel riveting equipment and precision assembly systems. The company acquired new design software, including Siemens PLM Software's NX™ software as one of its main CAD/CAM programs.

While the SaM146 engine by PowerJet (a joint venture between French Snecma, a part of Safran Group, and Russian NPO «Saturn») was selected in 2002, SCAC's work with other global suppliers began in 2003. These partners include Thales for avionics, Messier Dowty for landing gear, Liebherr Group for control systems and environmental control systems, Intertechnique for the fuel system, Honeywell Aerospace for the APU and other prominent names. As such, this effort represents one of the world's largest distributed engineering programs--an ambitious and unprecedented undertaking for a company not previously engaged in large collaborative efforts.

SCAC's dispersed engineering organization

SCAC's Russian operations span seven time zones. The aircraft's major airframe structures are built by two Sukhoi units, KnAAPO in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and NAPO in Novosibirsk, while a third location VASO in Voronezh provides composite structures. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company's branch in Komsomolsk-on-Amur is responsible for final assembly, factory flight test and deliveries. The main engineering, management and certification operations of the company are located in Moscow.

With its global partners, the sun literally never sets on the SSJ100 engineering program. Work takes place around the clock, requiring access to a central data warehouse. Moreover, most of SCAC's major global partners use various CAD software solutions for design. These CAD solutions typically aren't compatible, so an enterprise data management system was required to allow engineers in all locations to adapt designs and exchange data easily, whether originally created with NX or some other design package. Enter Teamcenter.

The simplicity and benefits of a multi-CAD system

Teamcenter is a Windows-based, multi-CAD system, meaning it can accept and manage data from virtually all leading CAD/CAM software packages--Siemens PLM Software's NX solutions or competitor solutions. Engineers need not be proficient in numerous CAD software solutions to access and work with 3D models and other engineering data. Regardless of the software used, designs created in the U.S. or Europe can be evaluated by engineers in Russia, and proposed changes can either be accepted or modified. Teamcenter facilitates information sharing by using a lightweight 3D graphic standard that can be shared quickly and easily over the Internet.

As a result, product development teams can collaborate in real-time using the latest product information and all disciplines can ensure their input is incorporated on a timely and continual basis so that the product is built to spec in the shortest period of time.

Teamcenter acts as a central repository of all product information for configuration management and other aspects of managing the development of a product from its very early definition phase through its entire life as the product is modified, adapted and maintained over many years.

OEMs face a host of challenges as they strive to create global virtual enterprises. Among the most daunting: providing current data, avoiding duplicative efforts, efficiently managing configuration changes and keeping all partners moving forward on a planned timeline. Teamcenter moves OEMs away from e-mail distribution of large files to hundreds of engineers and program managers, and the many challenges this type of coordination poses to process and configuration control. Information is available 24 hours a day with controls in place so that only desired program participants can make design changes and so that they receive quick and thorough review before changes are accepted.

For the Sukhoi Superjet 100, the complete digital mockup of the aircraft was divided into assemblies and then responsibility and access control were assigned to specific individuals on the team. Engineers then received only a link to the master model that was free of redundant information. This simple approach helped control and manage change during the time when the design was subject to continuous modification due to often conflicting requirements.

Teamcenter managed work among sites and data exchanges, both documents and digital mockups of models, and managed remote access to the master server. Digital models of the aircraft were transferred to the manufacturing sites without paper and without the need for costly and time-consuming full-scale models. Moreover, the quality of the digital models enabled Sukhoi to take maximum advantage of its investment in state-of-the-art manufacturing systems.

"We set out with an aggressive plan and succeeded because of our collaboration with partners and suppliers powered by Teamcenter," said Viktor Soubbotin, president, SCAC. "The collaborative technology played a central role in bringing the SSJ100 into the air faster and at lower cost."

With Teamcenter, companies enjoy "greater speed and confidence in bringing products to market than ever before," in the words of Dr. Helmuth Ludwig, president of Siemens PLM Software. As the Sukhoi Superjet 100 moves forward in flight testing and enters service next year, its path will be smoothed by great engineering teams and innovative, collaborative software that lets this Russian aerospace firm truly make the most of a global effort.

Note: Siemens and the Siemens logo are registered trademarks of Siemens AG. Teamcenter and NX are trademarks or registered trademarks of Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and in other countries. All other trademarks, registered trademarks or service marks belong to their respective holders.

Press release issued by Siemens PLM Software Inc. on July 14, 2008


 Contact details from our directory:
Siemens PLM Software Inc. Product Lifecycle Management
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft CJSC Airframer


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Sukhoi SuperJet 100


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Design Software

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