NPK Irkut, EADS and Rolls-Royce are considering ditching their joint effort to develop a Rolls-Royce-Deutschland BR715-powered version of the Beriev Be-200 twinjet amphibian, following the bleak conclusion of a joint study to examine the aircraft's market prospects.

To break even, the report says the Be-200RR project must secure between 100 and 200 sales, compared with fewer than 70 for the standard ZMKB Progress D-436TP-powered Be-200/Be-200ChS. Irkut chairman Aleksei Fiodorov says the BR715 is too heavy and must undergo extensive redevelopment to match the Be-200's existing airframe and be able to withstand the demands of sea operations, notably salt-water corrosion.

TANTK Beriev design house, which is controlled by Irkut, had planned to launch full-scale development of the Be-200RR in October, but decided to postpone the move until the market study was complete. Beriev engineers continue to look at various stretch options, Fiodorov says, but since the Be-200 has a boat, rather than standard airliner-style fuselage, stretching will involve extensive reworking of earlier drawings to satisfy the airworthiness requirements for operating on water.

If the D-436TP-powered Be-200 achieves European certification, no changes will be necessary to the Irkut/EADS co-operation agreement that was signed in 2002, Fiodorov says. "Our EADS colleagues seem to be ready to stay with the project even if Rolls-Royce drops out," he adds.


Source: Flight International