Uzbekistan Airways has become the first airline to take delivery of an Ilyushin Il-114 turboprop, with the handover of a production aircraft from the Tashkent Aircraft Production factory (TAPO). The airline remains the only firm customer for the type, which first flew in March 1990, and received provisional certification in April 1997.

Following approval, the two prototypes then spent a year route proving to complete the programme, which involved operating services with the Uzbek flag carrier.

Vadim Kucherov, TAPO general director, complains that excessive Russian customs tariffs and taxes are hampering the success of the eight-year-old programme. Sixty per cent of the 64-seat twin-turboprop's components are imported from Russia, representing $7.1 million of the aircraft's $13 million price tag, he says.

Despite this, TAPO has managed to secure funding for continued Il-114 production from Russia's Incombank, while Russia and Uzbekistan agreed to establish a consortium to market the II-114 and Il-76 freighter, also produced by TAPO.

Kucherov told Russian daily business newspaper Commersant Daily that "-production of the Il-114 will have no sense for us if Russian suppliers will not support us". He believes that a 20% decrease in the price of components through tax and customs tariff exemptions is necessary, combined with the removal of value added tax, but this seems unlikely.

Aeroflot Russian International Airlines (ARIA) general director Valery Okulov and VASO Voronezh management have signed contracts confirming ARIA's order to buy 17 Ilyushin Il-96Ms and three Il-96T freighters.

While the US Exim bank is providing $1 billion credit for production of Pratt & Whitney PW2337 engines and US-sourced avionics, another $500 million is needed to finance airframe production and assembly at VASO. The recently-signed papers confirm participation of two Russian banks, National Credit and Vneshtorg, in financing the deal, and apparently clear the way to fulfilling the contract.

Source: Flight International