Aviakor seeks funding to raise An-140 production rates

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Russia's privately-held Aviakor plant in Samara is seeking support from the government and private capital to increase production of the Antonov An-140 turboprop.

Independent forecasts assess the Russian market for 50-seat turboprops at 160-170 units, while another hundred can be sold to in special versions including ramp airlifter.

Aeroflot Group has declared a need for 25 An-140s, and PskovAvia for six, while Yakutia - which is accepting a fourth An-140 - is seeking seven more.

Russia's defence ministry operates two An-140-100s and holds firm orders for 15. Together with other governmental structures the ministry is seeking up to 110 aircraft.

While claiming the An-140 has proved its worth in operation, Aviakor admits numerous problems with streamlining manufacturing process - chiefly due to obsolescence of the plant's manufacturing equipment and ineffective supply chain - and resulting lower productivity than could be achieved over the next three to five years.

Aviakor's main goals are to increase production from four to 15 aircraft annually, reduce production cycles from 14 to seven months, and cut labour from 293,000 work-hours per airframe to 185,000.

If these targets are achieved, Aviakor promises a unit fly-away price of $14-15million, which it considers competitive with new and used ATR 42s, Bombardier Q300s and the Chinese-built Xian MA60 and MA600.

In asking the government for additional measures of support, Aviakor is promising to set-up cost-effective production of the An-140T ramp version to replace outdated An-26 airlifters, and start deliveries in 2015.

While it has a cargo hold similar to the An-26, the An-140T can carry 500kg more payload over twice the range, and accommodate 50 soldiers, 36 paratroopers or 24 occupied stretchers.

Although the type achieved certification in 2000 only 15 deliverable airframes are in service. Ukrainian carriers operate two, Iranian airlines have eight, and Russian operators five.

Russia's only commercial user, Yakutia, uses the type on services to 30 destinations including 20 with unpaved runways, with average monthly utilisation of 200h per airframe.