AEROFLOT-RUSSIAN International Airlines (ARIA) is to receive $1 billion financing from the US Export Import Bank (Exim) to help purchase 20 Westernised Ilyushin Il-96M/Ts. The financing covers the US content in the aircraft, including engines and avionics, and will be guaranteed by the Russian Government and by pledges on the aircraft.

Exim is negotiating a framework agreement, which will enable asset-based financing of US aviation exports to Russia. This agreement, expected to be implemented before delivery of the first Il-96 to ARIA, "...also will enable Exim to consider financing for export of large US commercial jet-aircraft into the Russian marketplace", the bank says.

The deal has not been universally welcomed, with Russian Government ministers and ARIA executives criticising the terms of the loan.

The first production aircraft, an Il-96T freighter, is expected to be completed at the end of March and Russian certification, is scheduled for the end of this year. Ilyushin plans to deliver five to seven aircraft a year, beginning in 1997. Pratt & Whitney PW2337 engines, Rockwell-Collins avionics, Sundstrand generators and other US components account for $50 million of the Il-96M/T's $80 million purchase price.

Source: Flight International