PICTURES: Antonov unveils first An-158 regional jet

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Ukraine's manufacturer Antonov has unveiled its new An-158 regional twin-jet, a stretched variant of the baseline An-148.

The jet, registered UR-NTN, is a modified prototype An-148 airframe and carries the colours of Ukrainian carrier AeroSvit.

During a ceremony in Kiev, Antonov chief Dmitry Kiva said the type, which is designed to accomodates 99 passengers, represented a further step in developing the An-148 aircraft family.

"There are now more options for our customers and wider marketing opportunities for us," he says, expecting the An-158 to become airborne on 9 May and its certification to be completed before 2011.

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 © Vladimir Karnozov

The Moscow government airline Atlant-Soyuz has an order for 30 Antonov regional jets. This includes 10 An-158s, due for delivery in 2012, plus five in VIP configuration in 2011-12.

Leasing company Ilyushin Finance, which acts as Antonov's marketing agent, expects Moscow's government to provide financial guarantees for the deal in May.