High-elevation tests under way for Cubana-bound An-158s

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Three Antonov An-158 regional jets are undergoing high-elevation performance and systems trials in Ecuador and Bolivia ahead of delivery to Cuban national airline Cubana.

"Today, the An-158 is certified for operating from airfields at altitudes as high as 2,000m [6,560ft] above sea level," says the Ukrainian airframer's deputy chief designer Alexander Kiva. "Following these trials, the limit will be raised to 4,000m.

"This will enable Cubana to use An-158s on routes to all Latin American countries with elevated runways."

Antonov is looking to complete the flight-test campaign by year-end and ferry the three An-158s to Havana shortly afterwards.

Cubana has already, since April, received three An-158s under a framework agreement which covers up to 10 aircraft of the type. That deal was struck with Antonov and Russian lessor Ilyushin Finance in 2011.

Last month, the airframer held follow-up consultations with Cubana and Ilyushin Finance. "We're nearing the signing of a contract covering the rest of the batch," says Kiva. "Lining up logistics for the assembly of four more aircraft is under way."