Kharkov State Aircraft Manufacturing Company (KSMAC) is co-ordinating a sharp rise in the output of the Antonov An-140 regional airliner, which is making its Paris debut this year.
According to KSMAC general director Pavel Naumenko, there is a renewed need for "big-scale" aircraft production in Russia to begin the replacement of older types such as the An-12, An-24 and An-26.
The An-140 entered service with Odessa Airlines in March 2002, and so far KSMAC has delivered five: two to Odessa; two to Aeromost-Kharkov Airlines; and one to Motorsich Airlines. However, in December, one of the Aeromost aircraft crashed in Iran.
This year KSMAC will build six An-140s in total, with a further four produced from kits supplied by the Ukraine manufacturer to Iran's HESA which is assembling the aircraft - designated by IrAn-140 - for the local market, says Naumenko. HESA has already built two IrAn-140s.
Under the government supported programme, 100 An-140s will be assembled in Iran for domestic carriers.
In 2004, KSMAC will build 12 An-140s for the Ukraine and Russian market. The production capacity for the type in Kharkov - which once produced the Tupolev Tu-134 twinjet - stands at 25-30 aircraft per year, says Naumenko. But with the combined market potential of Ukraine and Russia, this will not be enough. Accordingly, KSMAC has teamed with the Russian Samara-based Aviacor plant to establish another An-140 line, he explains. This former Tu-154 manufacturing operation will make between two and four An-140s in 2004, with production increasing thereafter.
In the Russian and Ukraine market, the An-140 is competing with secondhand western turboprops like the ATR-42 or Bombardier Dash 8, says Naumenko. But with its price-tag of only $8.5 million the ability to buy a new, modern generation aircraft is an attractive proposition, he believes.
The next target market for the aircraft are traditional customers of Russian and Ukrainian-built types such as eastern European countries, and states in North Africa, the Middle East, some parts of Asia and Latin America. The An-140 is the first aircraft from the Commonwealth of Independent States to be designed and certified to Russian AR-25 airworthiness standards, which are harmonized with US Part 25 requirements. This is important to help KSMAC in gaining overseas orders, says Naumenko. Total commitments for the An-140, which is powered by the Russian-made TV3-117VMA-SBM1 turboprop, stands at 15 firm orders.