Western certification will boost sales prospects for the Rolls-Royce-powered twinjet

The European Joint Aviation Authorities is poised to begin the process of certificating the Tupolev Tu-204-120 next month following completion of the first Western-configured aircraft.

The Rolls-Royce RB211-535-powered twinjet is set to become the first version of the Tu-204 to gain European approval, with the process expected to take at least 14 months. The effort has been delayed by up to four years due to the need to translate the library of technical and operations manuals for the type into English.

Aviastar has completed a Tu-204-120 with a Western-configured cockpit, which incorporates altimeters calibrated in metres rather than feet, and instrument inscriptions in English instead of Russian.

The aircraft, which is the 33rd Tu-204 to roll off the line at Aviastar's plant in Ulyanovsk, is a cargo door-equipped version. It is due to be delivered to leasing firm Sirocco Aerospace by early July. It is the sixth R-R powered Tu-204 to be delivered to the lessor, and will be available to the JAA for the certification process. Sirocco is funding the JAA approval process.

Russia's MAK aviation authority is to make its original Tu-204 flight test data available to the JAA, which the Europeans will validate. An audit and inspection will also be made of the Aviastar plant to ensure it meets the JAA's quality standards.

JAA chief executive Klaus Koplin confirms that the certification process is about to start, but says that it is not clear yet how much flight-testing will be required to complete the approval.

Western approval of the Tu-204 is seen as vital if the new generation Russian twinjet's appeal is to be expanded. Several Tu-204sare already in service in Europe, but these are equipped with Russian Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines and are operated on Russian registrations.

Express package specialist TNT, based in Liege, Belgium, wet-leases PS-90-powered Tu-204s, and is evaluating the type for its 20-30t payload freighter requirements.

Source: Flight International