Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

IRAN HAS SIGNED A DEAL with Ukraine for the licence production of the Antonov An-140 twin-turboprop, the Ukrainian Ministry of Machine Building has confirmed. Production is to be undertaken in Isfahan, Iran, where an aircraft-manufacturing plant will be completed with Ukrainian assistance.

Two prototypes of the An-140, one for flight tests and another for static-airframe load tests, are being built at the Antonov plant in Kiev. The first flight is planned for later this year.

Antonov refuses to give a more specific date, saying that it will depend on "availability of full-scale financing for the programme". The wing centre-section has been attached to the fuselage of the first airframe in the assembly rig.

Wings for the prototypes are being manufactured at the Kharkov KhAPO aircraft-production plant, where series production is intended to start in 1998. Another site under consideration for series production is the Yuzhmash plant in Dnepropetrovsk, a manufacturer of intercontinental ballistic missiles and space boosters.

The assembly line in Isfahan could get under way in 1999. Initially, assembly will be undertaken with components delivered from Ukraine. Local production of parts and components will gradually be taken up in Iran. The overall cost of the Iranian project - including construction of the factory - is said to be $4 billion. Most of it will be paid for in Iranian oil.

The An-140 is a high-wing regional airliner intended to replace aging An-24s still in operation worldwide. Its range is quoted at 2,000km (1,100nm) with 40 passengers, or 1,000km with 52 passengers, at a cruise speed of 300-325kt (550-600km/h).

The aircraft is to be powered by two TV3-117VMA-SB2 turboprops rated at 1,380kW (1,850hp) and will be produced at the Motor-Sich plant in the Ukrainian city of Zaporozhye.

Source: Flight International