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KhAPO steps up production as Antonov rides mini-boom

VLADIMIR KARNAZOV / MOSCOW Airlines line up with aircraft orders while Iranian licence production could reach 100 An-140s

Ukranian aircraft builder KhAPO is accelerating production of the Antonov An-140 and An-74 at its factory in Kharkov as orders for the types increase.

The factory plans to assemble 16-18 aircraft in 2003, including 12 of the new 52-seat An-140 twin-turboprop, which is becoming increasingly popular with the region's airlines. Commitments for five An-140s were taken at the recent Siberian Air and Space Show in Kransnoyarsk when Buryatia Airlines and Sibaviatrans signed for two and three aircraft, respectively.

Buryatia Airlines general-director Nikolai Davydov says two delivery positions have been reserved "and we are now talking to the government of Buryatia about financial support".

Sibaviatrans will take delivery of one aircraft in 2003 and one in 2005, with funding from Russian leasing company Ilyushin-Finance. "Ultimately, we want to replace our seven An-24s with five An-140s," says general director Maksim Chetverikov. He says Sibaviatrans operates the An-74 and is considering the new An-74TK-300 version.

KhAPO will build two An-74s in 2003 for an unnamed Chinese customer, and is offering the short take-off and landing TK-200 version to two African countries, where "a decision is expected early in 2003", says KhAPO general-director Pavel Naumenko.

KhAPO says it is close to firming up Ilyushin-Finance's memorandum of understanding for a 35-aircraft deal that includes 25 An-74TK-300s for Aeroflot (Flight International, 2-8 July). "We are renegotiating the delivery schedule as the customer is asking for several An-140s to be included," says Naumenko. The agreement is expected to be finalised early in the new year.

Ukrainian state-owned leasing company UkrTransLizing, which has outstanding orders for seven An-140s, says it has received requests from six local airlines for "several dozen" An-140s. It has already delivered one to Odessa Airlines and two to Aeromist-Kharkov Airlines.

UkrTranLizing's fourth An-140 will be delivered to Odessa, and five are destined for Aerosvit Airlines. UkrTransLizing chairman Aleksandr Yurakov lists potential An-140 customers as Crimea Air, Dniproavia and Donetsk Aviation Enterprise.

Russian airline Eurasia is to undertake a trial operation of the An-140 with Odessa Airlines and Aeromist on Russian internal services in 2003, ahead of a potential order for four aircraft "if it proves profitable and meets our requirements", says Eurasia chairman Amirani Kurtanidze. Russia's Volga Dnepr is also likely to take the aircraft, having recently signed a letter of intent for four An-140s to replace its Yakovlev Yak-40 regional jets.

Iran's HESA manufacturing company in Isfahan has a licence production deal to build 24 An-140s from KhAPO-supplied kits by 2006. Naumenko expects Iran will need over 100 An-140s for its domestic market.

Meanwhile, KhAPO's joint venture with Samara-based Aviacor, which will market and share production of the An-140, has set up an assembly line at Samara, and the first aircraft is due to be rolled out next year.

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