Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

Russian manufacturing plant Aviacor will invest $20 million next year to underwrite the launch of series production of Antonov An-140 twin-turboprop.

The 50-seat design has been conceived as a new generation regional airliner to replace the large fleet of ageing Antonov An-24s in service with Russia's airlines. The prototype An-140 was flown from Antonov's plant in Kiev in August 1997, and Andrei Karklin, who is general director at Samara-based Aviacor, says the first production An-140 is 70% complete. This aircraft should be finished by July, and work on the next five aircraft is under way at the plant.

An-140 production received a major boost earlier this when Aviacor was acquired by the Sibirsky Aluminiy (Sibir Aluminium) financial group, which has already invested $4 million in the programme. The production plan for 2000-1 calls for eight aircraft to be completed, with production expenses for this first batch estimated at $40-50 million.

Sibirsky Aluminiy has secured a one-year, $5.5 million bank loan from the MDM bank for Aviacor. The first $3.5 million was transferred in August. The second tranche of $2 million has just been received. Aviacor will use it to fund the completion of three Tupolev Tu-154M tri-jets.

• The creation of a consolidated Tupolev uniting the Moscow ANTK design bureau and Aviastar production plant in Ulyanovsk is expected to be completed this month. The government will retain "50% plus one" share, with 5.4% held by ANTK Tupolev and the rest by Aviastar.

Source: Flight International