Russian lessor Ilyushin Finance (IFC) is seeking to increase the market appeal of the Tupolev Tu-204 family by equipping aircraft with International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500 powerplants.
IFC has mapped out the idea to Rolls-Royce, which is a major shareholder in IAE and has been supplying RB211-535E4 engines for Tu-204-120 jets.
New RR Moscow office chief Vladimir Rashchupkin says the project centres on applying V2500 engines to the Tu–204-100 and -300 models that are currently fitted with Soloviev PS-90As.
“It also envisages refitting cabin equipment to reduce aircraft weight as much as possible while preserving the aerodynamic characteristics,” says Rashchupkin. “The ultimate goal is to enhance the economics and make these aircraft more attractive for carriers. We’re pleased to take part in this work.”
IFC is aiming to achieve aircraft weight-reductions enabling it to cut fuel consumption by 12-17%. It believes both modifications will be a cheaper alternative to Western medium-range aircraft, such as the Airbus A321, in the face of a pressing need to replace around 400 Tu-154s that are currently in commercial service.
“Half of them are Tu-154B models which are being phased out practically on a daily basis,” says IFC financial director Nikolai Dadonov. “The service life of all -154Ms will come to an end over the next seven years. We estimate the potential market for V2500-powered Tu-204s at around 150 aircraft, of which up to 30 could be exported.”
Russian carriers KrasAir, Vladivostok Avia and Transaero have taken a serious interest in the project. IFC expects them to submit specific requirements before the year-end.
Plans are to begin building test samples at aircraft factories Aviastar and KAPO in the third quarter of 2007 after the Tupolev design bureau issues them with the necessary documentation. Should flight certification programme be completed within one year, Dadonov hopes that the two models will be available by 2008.