TUPOLEV HAS revealed new details of its planned Tu-304 long-range, widebodied twin, adding that it has signed a protocol with Rolls-Royce to power the aircraft.

The agreement with the UK engine manufacturer covers the use of the 400kN (90,000lb)-thrust Trent 884 turbofan. Tupolev is coming to the end of its technical and economical feasibility study of the aircraft, and a government decision on financing the programme is expected by the end of this year.

If funding is obtained, then prototype construction is expected to begin in late 1998, with the maiden flight scheduled for the beginning of 2000. The company expects the aircraft to be certificated at the end of 2001.

The Tu-304 is planned to have a maximum capacity in single-class seating of 400 passengers, with alternative two- and three-class configurations down to 312 seats. It will feature a laminar flow wing, allowing a cruise Mach number of M0.85, a range with 400 passengers of 10,200km (5,500nm), and a maximum take-off weight of 245t.

The airframe is to be constructed mainly from aluminium alloy, with 15% composites.

Tupolev says that the design will have the potential for a 15% increase in maximum take-off weight.

R-R says that the project has been presented to several potential customer airlines during the show - particularly Russian companies now operating the Ilyushin Il-86.

No selection of an avionics supplier has yet been made. Rockwell-Collins, although considered a likely candidate by virtue of its involvement in the Tu-204 programme, says that no talks have been held on the application.

Source: Flight International