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Aermacchi may seek new engine for Yak-130

Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

Aermacchi and Yakovlev are close to deciding whether to switch engine suppliers for their Yak/AEM-130 jet trainer after the co-operation talks between Rolls-Royce and Slovakia's Povazske Strojarne (PSLM) broke down.

The production version of the "Westernised" Yak-130 twinjet should be powered by the PSLM-built DV-2S turbofan, but the engine maker needs more than $60 million to complete development and certification (Flight International, 16-22 June, 1999).

R-R says it has "become apparent that the overall cost of the very significant development and qualification programme required- does not present a viable business case for continued involvement". Urgent talks over the future of the DV-2S are under way with Pratt & Whitney Canada, confirms Dr Michal Hirjak, vice-chairman of PSLM parent HTC Holding.

Aermacchi Yak/AEM-130 business development manager Paolo Mezzanotte says the company still has "some confidence" that PSLM will be able to proceed with development of the DV-2S. The Italian company, however, will decide "within the next one to two months" whether to switch to another powerplant, he adds.

"R-R was not the only prospective partner for PSLM," says Mezzanotte, but "we have at least one alternative engine."

The Honeywell (formerly AlliedSignal) F124 is the leading candidate, while the R-R Turboméca Adour is seen as a possible, but unlikely, choice.

The possible inability of Aermacchi/Yakovlev to offer a DV-2S-powered Yak-130 would represent a serious setback in their campaign to sell the aircraft to Slovakia, which is expected eventually to issue a tender for up to 60 trainer/light attack aircraft. Also competing for the order will be BAE Systems with its Hawk and Boeing-backed Aero Vodochody offering its L-159.

The Slovakian Government is under pressure to select a DV-2S-powered aircraft to help support beleaguered PSLM, but has refused to provide the required development funding. Aero Vodochody had offered to study integrating the DV-2S into the single-engined, F124-powered L-159 to help boost its chances of winning the order.

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