EUROPEAN AND US suppliers are working on a financial package to enable the stalled Tupolev Tu-334 airliner programme to be restarted.

Suppliers involved in the effort include AlliedSignal, BMW Rolls-Royce and Honeywell. BMW R-R plans to supply its BR710 engine for a 100-seat version of the twinjet. The current version is powered by two ZMKB Progress D-436T turbofans. The more-powerful BR715, being developed for the similarly sized McDonnell Douglas MD-95, is aimed at the larger 126-seat version.

AlliedSignal is supplying wheels and brakes, while Honeywell is the avionics supplier. Honeywell CIS business-development director Alla Weinstein says: "We are certainly in discussions with several investment groups about financing the full programme, although nothing is yet finalised. These talks are supported by Tupolev efforts to establish a joint OEM [original equipment manufacturer] organisation as part of a formal business plan," a move which Weinstein describes as "a major step".

The talks also include "-looking at a leasing infrastructure for airlines to get hold of the aircraft. Under Russian law, any airlines leasing are entitled to significant tax benefits," she says.

Weinstein adds: "The big difference this time is that the Russians are looking at this as an overall programme, not in the rather piecemeal way in which the Il-86 effort was handled."

The Western manufacturers hope to finalise the finance package within the next nine months. "This time, Tupolev has selected suppliers and stuck with them," says Weinstein. Another factor slowing progress had been uncertainty about the outcome of the recent Russian elections. With the return of Boris Yeltsin, says Weinstein, the international investment community is more confident.

"After the forthcoming US elections, things will move faster," Weinstein believes.

The Tu-334 prototype was unveiled in 1995, but the programme has since slowed to crawling pace as financial support has dried up.

Source: Flight International