Russian airline evaluates types in search to find replacement for domestic fleet

Aeroflot Russian Airlines has added the new TK-300 variant of the Antonov An-74 to its regional aircraft evaluation, signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the lease of 25 aircraft worth an estimated $250 million.

The Russian flag carrier already has MoUs with Tupolev and RSK MiG for the Tu-334 and with Sukhoi for the Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) family. Aeroflot general director Valery Okulov says the airline badly needs replacements for its fleet of 30 ageing Tupolev Tu-134 twinjets which serve its domestic network, and wants the new aircraft in service no later than 2006.

Aeroflot is unlikely to acquire more than one regional type, so the selection is now a three-way fight between the 68-seat An-74TK-300, the 100-seat Tu-334 and the 55 to 95-seat RRJ family. Western-built models are not included in the evaluation as import restrictions prevent Aeroflot having more than 27 foreign aircraft in its fleet.

Having signed the MoU with leasing company Ilyushin Finance for 25 An-74s, Aeroflot has specified that for the deal to go ahead at least 50% of the Ukrainian-designed and built aircraft will have to be produced in Russia. If it selects theAn-74TK-300, it would become launch customer for the new model.

The TK-300 was developed from the short take-off and landing (STOL) An-72/74, which features a blown-wing configuration with engines above the wing. The ZMKB Progress D-36-powered TK-300 has conventional underwing engines, trading STOL performance for better operating economics.

The prototype TK-300, which was developed from the An-74TK-200, flew in April last year and was displayed at the 2001 Paris air show. While the prototype is the same size as the 52-seat TK-200, the production TK-300 will be stretched to take 60-68 passengers.

TK-300 certification will involve 400 flights and is due for completion this year as a supplement to the An-74's type certification.


Source: Flight International