Atlant-Soyuz has joined Volga-Dnepr as a launch customer for the Ilyushin Il-96T four-engined widebody freighter. The Moscow-based carrier has placed a firm order for two aircraft with Ilyushin-Finance (IFK), under similar terms to the deal signed by Volga-Dnepr and IFK at last month’s Paris air show.

The two airlines have together ordered four Il-96Ts worth $240 million. These will be built at VASO and delivered under 15-year financial lease terms. As part of the agreement, the airlines and the lessor jointly ordered an initial 12 PS-90A1 engines from Perm.

Atlant-Soyuz announced its plan to acquire four Il-96-400Ts in 2003 as a direct purchase from the VASO plant in Voronezh, under financial guarantees from its founder, the Moscow city government, using a credit line from the Bank of Moscow. After this fell through, the carrier shifted from a direct purchase to an IFK-arranged financial lease, using credit lines from the Bank of Moscow, Sberbank, VneshTorgBank and VneshEconomBank.

Atlant-Soyuz and Volga-Dnepr are due to make prepayments this year, to enable Ilyushin to certificate the aircraft in 2006 and VASO to deliver the first two airframes in 2007 and the other two in 2008.

The Il-96T is optimised for 5,000km (2,700nm) flights with a 92t payload, while meeting ICAO Chapter 4 noise standards. The upgraded PS-90A1 engines will provide about 7% more thrust than the already-certificated PS90A, incorporating a new fan and combustor.

VASO is restarting work on four airframes that went into production in the early 1990s and were to have been equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW2000 engines and Rockwell Collins avionics. In the new specification, their Western content is cut to less than 10%.

IFK general director Aleksandr Rubtsov says IFK and Volga-Dnepr plan to help Ilyushin gain European Aviation Safety Agency and US Federal Aviation Administration certification of the Il-96T, which would allow use of cheaper Western capital to fund production.

Rubtsov says the two launch customers could require up to 15 Il-96Ts, and negotiations Chinese airlines are under way.


Source: Flight International