Antonov has removed the first An-148 fuselage from its assembly jig at the company’s experimental factory in Kiev after completing the project on schedule. Assembly started last October and proceeded without the delays typical of recent CIS aircraft projects. Antonov plans first flight by the end of this year and certification to Russia’s AP-25 airworthiness requirements–harmonized with FAR Part 25– next year. This requires construction of two flight-test aircraft and one airframe for ground tests. Service entry is set for 2005 with Russian cargo carrier Volga-Dnepr. A provisional agreement with Aeroflot calls for the lease, via Russia’s Ilyushin-Finance and Ukraine’s UkrTransLizing, of 30 An-74TK300s with subsequent replacement by An-148s.
Assembly of a second fuselage, for which parts have already been made, has started on the same jig. Antonov said that using 100 percent on-screen design technologies results in faster and higher-quality engineering work, and keeps the costs down. Antonov uses PTS CADDS5 software, while the KhGAAP factory in Kharkov, which supplied cockpit canopy framework on the first aircraft, uses Uuclid3. KhGAAP, where the An-148 assembly line will be located, participates in design work and supplies the Antonov experimental factory with central fuselage sections, wing consoles, engine nacelles and pylons. The Aviant production plant in Kiev is responsible for the empennage, hatches and doors. Rocket manufacturer YuzhMash makes the landing gear and likely will supply noise-absorbing panels for engine nacelles based on materials developed for launch vehicles.
Meanwhile, Antonov has decided to use ZMKB Progress D436-148 engines instead of the D365AFs originally planned for the An-148. The new engines produce more thrust but are heavier. They also would make the An-148 comply with proposed Stage 4 noise limits. The shift to the larger engine stemmed from the engine company’s persistence in seeking a broader customer base for its new design. The D436 already powers the Beriev Be-200, Tupolev Tu-334 and stretched Yak-42. Western engines were not considered.
Antonov has yet to decide whether the engine shift would necessitate stretching the An-148’s basic fuselage to accommodate 90 to 100 seats in a five-abreast layout instead of the earlier planned 80. Antonov is offering the An-148 in four main versions, all sharing the same fuselage, where seating capacity is traded for extra fuel and higher comfort. An extended-range version with higher mtow increases the An-148’s reach with a full load from 1,350 nm to 2,160 nm. An ultra-long-range variant would fly 3,780 nm. A VIP aircraft for 10 to 18 passengers would offer a 5,940-nm range.
Antonov is aiming the An-148 at CIS countries and other traditional users of Soviet aircraft. The aircraft is designed to operate in harsh environments, with a high wing to protect the engines from ingesting objects when operating from semi-prepared airfields.