KnAAPO, which has paid for most of the six-seater's development costs, is in talks aimed at securing orders

The Beriev Be-103 six-seater amphibian has completed flight tests aimed at securing type certification to the Russian equivalent of the US FAR Part 23, AP-23.

The certificate is due to be awarded after completion of paperwork this month, says Leonid Vorobiev, general aviation programme director at Sukhoi's KnAAPO plant in Komsomolsk-na-Amur, which is responsible for the Be-103.

Instrument flight rules testing will start next year, for which one aircraft has been equipped with Western weather radar. Certification to FAR Part 23 is planned for 2003-4.

The basic model with two Teledyne Continental IO-360ES4 engines driving MTV-12 propellers and Bendix/King avionics is priced at $600,000. Beriev is also developing a variant for the local market with VAZ-426-3 rotary piston engines, a derivative of the VAZ-426 automotive engine.

The 220kW (300hp) VAZ-426, which is similar in dimensions and weight to the 156kW IO-360ES4, can run on low-octane gasoline or diesel and is undergoing bench trials for certification in the third quarter of next year. This Russian version of the Be-103, which will also feature a simplified avionics suite, will sell for under $450,000.

KnAAPO, which has provided most of the development money for the Be-103 over the past eight years, is negotiating with several interested Siberian parties, including local airlines and regional Khabarovsk government agencies. An order for five aircraft has been received from an undisclosed customer for delivery next year, while Vorobiev says a deal for a further two aircraft has been signed with a US businessman.

Five aircraft and two prototypes have been built since the programme began in 1993. KnAAPO had to redesign the wing's leading edge after flight tests revealed control problems at low speeds.

The company is also talking to the Malaysian government, which has expressed an interest in producing the aircraft locally. Irkutsk Aviation Production Association is talking to various industrial partners in South-East Asia on marketing and supporting the Be-103 and the Be-200 twinjet amphibian. A Be-200 prototype completed a 22,500km (12,150nm) round trip in October from the Beriev base at Taganrog on the Black Sea coast to South-East Asia. The trip included demonstrations at the LIMA 2001 air show in Langkawi, Malaysia.

Source: Flight International