Russian industrial conglomerate Rostec and Austria's Diamond Aircraft are to partner to develop and produce a low-cost utility transport aircraft for the Russian market to enter service in 2016.

The proposed 19-seater is pitched to replace Russia's fleet of ageing Antonov An-2 and Let L-410 types, which "have low fuel efficiency and high operating costs", says Sergey Chemezov, chief executive of Rostec.

"Today, local aviation in Russia is in severe crisis as there are no state-of-the-art quality light airplanes of affordable prices," says Chemezov. "Creating a new aircraft will fulfil this niche and allow the obsolete fleet to be replaced."

Diamond will build five initial examples of the majority composite aircraft, with diesel powerplants likely to be from sister company Austro Engine, before production is gradually transferred to Rostec subsidiary Ural Works of Civil Aviation.

Engine work will additionally be transferred to Russia, with separate agreements covering local assembly of 190hp engines for civil and military UAVs.

Rostec picked Diamond, it says, because of its expertise in low-cost composite aircraft production. It anticipates an annual requirement for 200 aircraft as more carriers enter the market on the back of government subsidies and a restored airfield network.

Diamond has prior experience of the Russian aviation industry having produced the prototype centre wing box for the in-development Irkut MS-21 twinjet.

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Source: Flight Daily News