The future of the Beriev Be-200 amphibian twinjet hinges upon decisions of Greece, Italy and Portugal, which are considering the aircraft respectively for firefighting and search and rescue roles, says NPK Irkut president Oleg Demchenko.

Project leader Irkut has completed five out of seven aircraft ordered by the type's only customer, Russia's ministry for emergencies. The remaining two Be-200s are undergoing final assembly at its plant in Irkutsk and are scheduled for completion by the end of next year.

The ministry has taken delivery of four aircraft. The fifth is being used by Beriev and Irkut for the European certification effort and will be handed over following approval, planned in the first quarter of 2008. This aircraft is undergoing modification at Beriev's facility in Taganrog to comply with European requirements including the installation of an English-language cockpit.

Demchenko says European Aviation Safety Agency certification is targeted for the firefighter version, similar to the Be-200ChS tailored for the ministry for emergencies needs.

EASA validation is essential if the Be-200 is to be considered by European buyers. Portugal has repeatedly postponed its tender for two firefighting aircraft, Demchenko says, adding: "We will still bid in Portugal, even though we will face a strong competition from Bombardier with the 415."

Source: Flight International