Ilyushin Finance scopes out An-148 re-engining

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Russian lessor Ilyushin Finance is exploring the possibility of equipping Antonov An-148 regional jets with alternative Western engines to increase the type's marketability.

The company, which promotes An-148s assembled by Russian airframer VASO, has revealed that it is negotiating with Pratt & Whitney about using PW1200 geared turbofans to this end.

"These are preliminary talks with no definitive decisions or binding agreements yet," said a spokesman for Ilyushin Finance. "We're assessing various viable alternatives to boost the type's market appeal."

In a similar vein, Antonov tentatively contemplates alternative configurations for An-148/158 aircraft with General Electric CF34 or PowerJet SaM146 turbofans and has made overtures to their manufacturers.

Like Antonov, Ilyushin Finance insists its activity in the same direction does not undermine rights of Ukrainian manufacturer Motor Sich as an exclusive engine supplier for the first 50 serial An-148s.

"It is not in contravention of the agreement on that score with Antonov," said the spokesman. "So much so that we're only in the exploratory stage."