RUSSIAN AEROSPACE officials are voicing concern at the lack of progress with the European Joint Airworthiness Authorities (JAA) over agreement on certification procedures for Russian aircraft, despite progress with the US Federal Aviation Administration on the same issue.

Tupolev, which is working on having a Rolls-Royce-powered variant of the Tu-204 twin-turbofan passenger aircraft certificated to Western standards, say that considerable difficulties still exist.

Tupolev's intention is to have the Tu-204 variant certificated by the JAA, but Valentin Klimov, Tupolev's general director, warned at the conference that: "...certification is problematic. Some people are overblown with optimism. I believe we will have problems in this area."

Russia's Aviation Register has been in prolonged negotiations with the FAA and the JAA in attempting to resolve the certification issue.

Valentin Sushko, chairman of the Aviation Register, says that, despite receiving no financial support for the certification initiative from the Russian Government, progress is being made, at least as far as the USA is concerned.

He is considerably less positive about developments with the JAA, saying: "Russia's aircraft industry has to decide whether we are working with the JAA or not."

Sushko says that, at a recent meeting in Washington, both sides "...signed the necessary documentation" to allow the USA to certificate the Ilyushin Il-103 light aircraft three months after it is certificated in Russia. Sushko adds that he hopes that Russia and the USA will sign a bilateral airworthiness agreement in 1996.

The Il-103 and the Pratt & Whitney 2337-powered Il-96M/T widebody passenger aircraft are being used as the basis for attempting to establish Western certification standards in Russia. The Il-96M/T will be certified on the basis of Federal Aviation Regulation 25.

The recent focus has been on the Il-103, as it presents considerably fewer challenges then does the Il-96M/T.

On a note of caution, however, Sushko say that a "major obstacle" still exists in the shape of the certification of the production sites. "The bilateral will only cover those production centres audited by them," says Sushko.

Similar concerns are voiced by European Commission advisors working on the issue, who also question whether there is any overall Russian "co-ordinated certification plan."

As far as production site certification is concerned, they point out that the differing manufacturing philosophies between the West and the former USSR pose considerable problems.

Source: Flight International