Russia's light aviation industry could get a boost from the launch of a project that aims to cover the vast country with a light-aircraft transportation network connecting Moscow with other regions.

A group including the Russian Union of Manufacturers and Entrepreneurs, the Light Aviation Club and foreign investment company LanRusinvest struck a deal earlier this month with nine Russian regions to create a company, Avialine-Center, as the first stage of the project.

The Russian state is expected to become a partner, forming state-owned company Avialine, which will operate from ex-military airfields. The project is expected to require an investment of $5-8 million this year alone, with LanRusinvest initially providing $400,000.

Avialine-Center plans 30 routes, initially from Moscow to Kursk, Orel and Tula, at $50-70 per passenger, says Vyacheslav Ivanov, project co-founder and head of the Light Aviation Club. The firm has ambitious plans for up to 170 bought or leased aircraft in the first two years of operation, with types considered including the two- to five-seat piston-powered Ilyushin-103 and the two/four-seat Mil Mi-34C helicopter.

Il-103 manufacturer MAPO could be offered a share in the business, says Ivanov. The Il-103 was the first Russian aircraft to receive US Federal Aviation Administration certification, in 1998, but has struggled to find customers.

Source: Flight International