Russian start-up carrier Vyborg is ready for launch, following delivery of the first of its five Ilyushin Il-114 turboprops. The aircraft arrived three months later than scheduled due to a delay in the award of the airline operator's licence.

The airline's first two aircraft, which are on lease from Uzbek national carrier Uzbekistan Airways, are Klimov TV7-117S-powered Il-114s. They are several years old, but have flown only around 200h as they have been mostly grounded. The other three are new Il-114-100s equipped with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127 engines, and are being completed at the Tashkent TAPO factory. They are being drawn from around 10Il-114s which have been kept in storage semi-built for several years awaiting customers.

The Vyborg lease package was put together by Ilyushin and TAPO with support from the St Petersburg city administration and Russia's ministry of transport. The aircraft will be based inSt Petersburg and serve Russia's north-west region. The first year will effectively be an operational trial to assess the aircraft's performance and operating costs.

Klimov has been criticised by Uzbekistan Airways for the poor performance of the TV7-117S engines and its lack of support, but the design bureau says that it will pay "very special attention" to engines on Vyborg's two aircraft. Klimov admits that "difficult times in the 1990s prevented us from paying enough attention to the TV7-117", but says that it now aims to make the engine "a real commercial product".

An improved, more powerful Series 2 version of the engine has been developed. It is rated at 2,090-2,610kW (2,800-3,500shp) and is equipped with a full authority digital engine control system that improves fuel consumption. Klimov plans to deliver some of the new engines soon for installation on Vyborg's aircraft.

Source: Flight International