Antonov, Ilyushin, Sukhoi and Tupolev expected to submit offers to government to replace region's ageing fleet

The Russian government has launched an initiative to replace the country's ageing fleet of short- haul airliners, with a request for tenders from the local industry for the supply of 200 large regional jets.

The move has been instigatedin conjunction with Russia'saerospace agency RAKA, with the Russian minister for industry,science and technology announcing a requirement for 200 70-80 seat jets to replace the in-service fleet. Initial tenders must be submitted by early November.

Bids are expected from Russian design bureaux Ilyushin, Sukhoi and Tupolev, as well as Antonov in Ukraine. Candidates include the Antonov An-148, the planned100-seat version of the IlyushinIl-214 military transport, the Sukhoi/Ilyushin/Boeing Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) and the Tupolev Tu-334. Antonov, Ilyushin and Sukhoi are discussing possible co-operation on a bid.

The main focus of the requirement is the replacement of the 80-seat Tupolev Tu-134 twinjet. The 1960s design remains the backbone of the many Russian airlines' short- haul fleets, with almost 300 in service with operators in the region. Lack of finance has hampered the development of new-generation Russian regional aircraft and, despite the latest initiative, there isÊno suggestion that the government will provide development funding for the winner.

The most advanced programme among the candidates is the Tupolev Tu-334, which has been under development for the past decade, but a lack of finance has slowed its service entry. RSK MiG and Tupolev are competing to retain the right to manufacture the aircraft, and the winner is likely to be the one to first provide development finance.

Antonov has developed the 80-seat An-148 twinjet from theAn-72/74. The prototype is under construction and is scheduled to fly late next year.

The other programmes are all paper projects. The Il-214 is being developed with India's Hindustan Aeronautics for military roles, although a 100-seat airliner version is also planned. Sukhoi is the lead design bureau on the RRJ project, which also includes Ilyushin and has assistance from Boeing. This new regional jet family is aimed at the Russian and CIS markets.

Source: Flight International