Larger-wing variant production to begin next year at sites in Iran, Russia and Ukraine

Production of the Antonov An-140 regional turboprop is to switch next year to the improved -100 model, fitted with a larger wing, at all three production sites in Iran, Russia and Ukraine. Meanwhile, Iran and Ukraine are looking to strengthen their Antonov industrial partnership.

The -100 has a 1m (3.3ft) greater wingspan, allowing a 500kg (1,100lb) maximum take-off weight increase, to 21,500kg, and range increase of 300km (160nm) at maximum payload.

Antonov chief project manager Serge Merenkov says the increased size of the wing and control surfaces help the 140 "better meet" Iran's needs for hot-and-high performance. Ukraine's KhAPO plant in Kharkov will switch to -100 production from the sixth or seventh airframe, says Merenkov. Next year KhAPO will produce six aircraft and deliver four kits to Iran's HESA, which assembles the aircraft locally under the IrAn-140 designation. HESA flew the second IrAn-140 last month, with the third to fly by mid-year. Subsequent airframes will be of the -100 standard.

By 2006, 25 An-140s are expected to have been delivered, including 15 An-140s to Ukrainian airlines and 10 to Russian carriers. Some of the latter will be assembled at the Russian Aviacor plant in Samara, which is expected to complete its first An-140 by year end. The third aircraft will be built to -100 standard.

Meanwhile, the Iranian and Ukrainian governments are negotiating the establishment of a joint aviation consortium to sell and manufacture Antonov regional aircraft in Arab countries. The collaboration was proposed last year by Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma and has the support of the Iranian leadership, which wants to establish a national aviation industry.

As well as freighter and convertible versions of the An-140s, Iran is also interested in producing the An-74TK300 and the An-148. Iran already operates 12 An-74T200s/ TK200s and is considering additional An-74TK300s.

This month the Ukrainian civil aviation authority UkrAviatsiya is to award HESA a "certificate for production" for the An-140. It will enable the Iranian authorities to issue an airworthiness certificate for the IrAn-140, after which it can enter commercial service with local airlines. HESA plans to assemble 12 IrAn-140s annually, starting in 2004.

Source: Flight International