The Aviacor factory in Samara, Russia has become the third plant to undertake series production of the Antonov An-140, rolling out its first aircraft on 25 December.

The first aircraft will undergo ground and flight tests ahead of entry into service with Samara Airlines in March. The airline will receive a second Aviacor-built aircraft in June. Unlike the first aircraft, the second and subsequent aircraft will be built as the improved An-140-100 variant that was specified by Iran for its local assembly line. The -100 features a strengthened centre wing-box and a 1m (3.3ft) increase in wingspan to provide improved field performance.

Aviacor has five airframes in various states of construction, and plans to complete four An-140s this year and eight in 2005. Konstantin Titov, the governor of the Samara region, says "the region is in talks with 30 operaters" about An-140 orders.

The 52-seat twin-turboprop is being built in Ukraine by the Kharkov State Aircraft Production Enterprise (KhAPO), while an Iranian-built version - the IrAn-140 - is assembled by HESA in Isfahan.

However, Antonov general designer Piotr Balabuev has hinted that Aviacor could become the sole An-140 producer in the CIS. "It would make sense, given that KhAPO is being overloaded with the An-74, An-140 and An-148 programmes," he says.

KhAPO has delivered five An-140s to Odessa Airlines, Aeromost-Kharkov and Motor-Sich Avia Airlines, while HESA has assembled three IrAn-140s.

Source: Flight International