Francois Legros/PARIS

French light aircraft manufacturer Reims Aviation is evaluating the market for a possible Westernised version of the Antonov An-140 turboprop.

Reims Aviation sales manager François Billet says the company's relationship with the Ukrainian design bureau Antonov is "very close" and that it is "undertaking a market analysis" to examine the possibility of producing a Westernised version. The result would be a "35-seat aircraft which would be similar to a Fokker F27", he says.

The Westernised An-140 would probably be produced in Antonov's Kiev, Ukraine, plant, although Billet stresses: "Nothing has been decided. Our examination is at a preliminary stage."

It is understood the airframe is likely to remain the same as that of the An-140, but the interior and engines would be upgraded. The two 1,840kW (2,465hp) Motor Sitch TV3-117s are considered inefficient and would be replaced by more advanced 2,055kW Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127s.

The move comes as Russian manufacturer Aviacor prepares to invest $20 million to underwrite series production of the An-140 at Samara (Flight International, 8-14 December). Designed as a replacement for Russia's ageing Antonov An-24 fleet, the An-140 first flew in August 1997. The first production example is expected to be completed next July. Iran has already signed an assembly deal with Antonov for the An-140.

Reims Aviation undertook the market study after one of its test pilots, Paul Roux, flew the aircraft at Kiev. This was the first time that the An-140 had been flown by a Western pilot.

Source: Flight International