Antonov and the Kharkov State Aircraft Manufacturing Company have begun training engineers and technicians from Iran in preparation for assembly of the An-140 turboprop aircraft to start by the year 2000.

The Ukrainian companies have a licence agreement with state-owned Iranian company HESA to produce the 52-seat airline version of the twin turboprop, which had its first flight on 17 September.

The first phase of the deal with HESA, which is jointly controlled by the Iranian Ministries of Industry and Defence, will see the entire aircraft produced at Kharkov and shipped to Isfahan in Iran for assembly. Local content will rise as Iranian expertise increases.

Talks are also now under way with engine-builder Klimov to build the aircraft's TB-117BMA-C62 powerplant in Iran, probably at a plant near Tehran.

Antonov deputy chief designer Oleg Bogdanov says that the licence deal allows only for production of passenger aircraft. The company is designing a cargo version of the An-140, however, which should be available for test flying around 2001.

Design work continues, and Bogdanov says that the An-140 will have a cargo door similar to that on the An-26 - the aircraft it is meant to replace.

With its ability to operate from short, unpaved, runways, the cargo version would make an ideal military utility aircraft.

Antonov has already sold five An-74s to the Iranians, and is currently delivering a further batch of aircraft.

For the time being, Antonov is concentrating on getting the passenger version into series production. The second, and last, test aircraft is due to join the programme at the end of November. Certification is due to take place by January 1999.

Production lines in the Ukraine and Russia are planned to meet the demand for an aircraft to replace the 600 An-24s and Yakovlev Yak-40s still in service in the CIS.

Source: Flight International