Russian Helicopters has reached an agreement with the country's government to launch production of a turboprop-powered update of the Antonov An-2 biplane and to establish airline operations for the aircraft.
The manufacturer – a subsidiary of state-owned holding company Rostec – says Russia's industry and trade ministry will subsidise the aircraft's certification process and provide "other potential measures of state support in order to arrange large-scale manufacturing".
Denis Manturov, minister of industry and trade, states that a budget of Rb220 million ($3.9 million) has been allocated for the project in 2018, to be followed by Rb230 million over the next two years.
"Regional aviation, virtually, will have to be created from scratch. The government is willing to partially subsidise certification expenses to manufacturers of aircraft for local transportation, as well as expenses on implementation of projects for manufacturing preparation and certification," Manturov says.
The fully composite version of the An-2 – rebranded as TVS-2DTS – is powered by a Honeywell TPE331-12 turboprop engine and completed its first flight in 2017.
Production is scheduled to start at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, which is more used to building Mil Mi-8 helicopters, by 2019, with an obligation to deliver "at least" 200 aircraft between 2021 and 2025, Russian Helicopters says.
The agreement also involves Russia’s transport ministry and the republics of Buryatia and Sakha (Yakutia).
Russian Helicopters says the deal includes establishment of a "new airline… on the basis of one of [the] Yakutia airlines", and that talks are under way for a "potential delivery of aircraft to the new operator with the assistance of the State Transport Leasing Company".
In addition, Yakutia-based Polar Airlines "will sign a contract on delivery of 200 TVS-2DTS planes in order to develop regional aviation", says Russian Helicopters.
TVS-2DTS aircraft will be used to replace An-2s, which are "abundantly" operated across Russia, notes the manufacturer. It adds that the single-engined aircraft are set to be employed to "address poor transport accessibility in remote Russian settlements, state problems with emergency medical treatment, forest firefighting [and] agricultural work".
Russian production of the An-2 ended during the Soviet era in 1971, but the type continued to be manufactured in Poland until 2002.