Antonov rolled out the new An-132D multipurpose turboprop transport on 20 December in Kiev, Ukraine, as the Saudi Arabia-backed project prepares to enter the flight test phase.

The roll-out of demonstrator comes about two years after Antonov launched the project, which updates the 40-year-old An-32 design with Honeywell avionics, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engines and other improvements.

Assembly of the first aircraft is in Ukraine, but series manufacturing will transition to Riyadh, with the involvement of Taqnia Aeronautics and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. The Kingdom owns a 50% share of the intellectual property invested in the design of the An-132.

The An-132 is designed to carry up to 8t of cargo at altitudes up to 28,000ft. It comes equipped a suite of updated technologies, including Dowty propellers and a Liebherr air management system.

The development programme has helped Antonov survive amidst the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the company’s former biggest customer and still a major supplier. Attending the event in Kiev included leaders of both countries involved in the An-132D programme — Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko and Saudi Arabia’s prince Turki Saud Mohammed Al Saud.

For Saudi Arabia, the programme is part of a larger effort to develop an indigenous aerospace industry ranging from supply parts to assembly aircraft.