The first example of the improved Antonov An-140-100 is to be delivered this month after the KhAPO aircraft factory in Kharkov received a contract from Ukraine's Ilyich-Avia, corporate air arm of the Mariupol metallurgy plant.

The -100 variant is an improved version of the 52-seater, which has been in service since 2000. It incorporates an increased wingspan, new engine nacelles and larger fuel tanks to boost range by 300km (160nm). KhAPO says the -100has had parts and systems improved for increased performance, flight safety and fasterturnaround times "based on experience amassed with two experimental and eight series An-140s".

The first -100 airframe built by the Aviacor plant in Samara has been undergoing trials ahead of the planned start of passenger operations next month. Aviacor has linked with KhAPO to offer the An-140-100 in a joint bid to Siberian helicopter operator UTAir for its five regional aircraft contract.

Meanwhile, the first two licence-built IrAn-140s, assembled from Kharkov-supplied kits at theHESA plant in Isfahan, Iran, are poised for handover to Iran's Safiran Airlines. Iranian national airlines are expected to eventually take over 100 IrAn-140s. Fiveaircraft have also been ordered by Air Libya and talks are beingheld with a group of airlines in Chad and Sudan for between 20 and 25 aircraft.

The Antonov An-148 regional jet is now set to make its maiden flight in July, following another slip from the original schedule that had called for first flight in December 2003. Two flying prototypes, which are due to roll out in June and October, are being completed at the design bureau's experimental aircraft factory in Kiev, Ukraine. The flight test and certification programme should be completed in October 2005, with the first four aircraft due to be in service by the end of next year.


Source: Flight International