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S-80 heads for 1998 first flight

Sukhoi is to complete manufacturing tooling in March for series production of its S-80 passenger/utility aircraft at the KNAAPO production plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia. The fuselage and wing of the first prototype are being assembled, and nose sections of the first three aircraft are now complete.

Current plans call for the roll-out of the first flying prototype and completion of the airframe for static structural-loads tests by November, with flight testing due to begin by early 1998. The production programme includes the second flying prototype and fourth airframe for cyclic structural-loads testing.

Although the S-80 is included as a separate item in the federal programme of civil-aviation development, Sergey Drobyshev, KNAAPO chief of marketing, says that less than 1.5 billion roubles ($268,000) of Government money has been received so far. The remainder of the development funding, more than 20 billion roubles, has come from KNAAPO's own financial resources, built by revenues from export contracts to deliver Sukhoi Su-27 fighters to China and Vietnam, and from the recent Su-27 licence-production contract with China.

The first prototype is being completed in a passenger/cargo combi configuration, with room for up to 26 passengers. A stretched version, capable of carrying 32 passengers, is also planned.

The S-80, which will be priced at $6.5-7 million, is pitched as a replacement for Antonov An-24/26s and An-28s, Yakovlev Yak-40s and Aero L-410s, and is a rival to the new Antonov An-38.

General Electric is supplying CT7 turboprop engines for the first prototype. The US company has established a joint venture with Rybinsk Motors, which will see Russian-built CT7 engines available for series production.