GENERAL ELECTRIC (GE) and Snecma are trying to patch together a $750 million financial package in a final attempt to rescue the proposed plan to re-engine Ilyushin Il-86 widebodies with a variant of the CFM56.

The project has been under discussion since the early 1990s, but financing has been a continuing stumbling block. If the problem is not resolved this year the project will be abandoned.

Tracey Homburg, GE Aircraft Engines vice-president, says that, in terms of the airframe life of aircraft, the remaining window is closing for justifying the engine-replacement programme.

Russian airlines, including Aeroflot, have expressed an interest in re-engineing the Il-86, replacing its existing NK-86 with a more fuel-efficient powerplant. Homburg says that the airlines cannot afford to buy the re-engined aircraft, so, for the programme to go ahead, "-a leasing company will have to be set up to lease the re-engined aircraft back to the airlines".

In addition to the US Eximbank, France's Coface and an international leasing consortium are options under exploration, says Homburg.

The setting up of the financial package, rather than any engineering hurdle, has been the obstacle placed in the project's path. Homburg says that what is difficult is to convince potential financiers that the project is viable.

Source: Flight International