CIS aerospace firms to develop Be-132MK

 - May 8, 2008, 6:13 AM

Russia’s Beriev, Irkutsk Aircraft Production Association (IAPO) and Klimov and the Ukraine’s Motor-Sich on June 19 signed a memorandum of understanding on the joint development of the Beriev Be-132MK regional turboprop. Expecting to complete a feasibility study this month, the companies hope to launch the project by year-end.

If that happens, a prototype will fly in 2003, and certification will follow in 2005. Ongoing negotiations with potential customers include talks with airlines of the republic of Sakha-Yakutia in Russia’s Far East.

The project is to be managed in a way similar to that of the Be-200 amphibian, which is being carried out by BetaAir JV. Research and development on the Be-132Mk is estimated at $60- to $70 million. It will be in part covered by investments of IAPO, which has secured multibillion dollar contracts with India and China for Sukhoi Su-27 fighters.

The Be-132MK is based on the Be-32 high-wing esign certified in 1972 but shelved in favor of the Antonov An-28s and Let L-410s produced in Poland and Czechoslovakia, respectively. Surviving aircraft in Russia are now largely grounded due to the high cost of spare parts. The Be-132MK is also marketed as a replacement for smaller An-2s and larger An-24 turboprops.

The new aircraft would meet AP-25/FAR Part 25 certification standards and have a pressurized cabin for 26 seats at 30-in. pitch (2+1 abreast), for which the Be-32’s fuselage will be extended by fuselage plugs. The powerplant would consist of two Klimov/Motor-Sich 1,500-shp VK1500P turboprops derived from the highly successful family of the TV3 turboshafts powering Mil Mi-8/24 and Kamov Ka-27/32 helicopters. The VK1500 would use innovations introduced on the recently certified VK2500’s digitally controlled higher-temperature model. Klimov is studying use of diesel on special variants of these engines.

“We presented Klimov with very demanding engine specifications, knowing that the Be-132’s success lies in that of its powerplant,” said Gennady Panatov, Beriev general designer. Among the requirements are a 3,000-hr TBO and a 6,000-hr guaranteed trouble-free lifetime extendable to 10,000 hr. Currently, a 10,000-hr operational lifetime has been achieved on production TV3 turboshafts; the VK2500 is to have twice that figure. The only surviving Be-32, re-engined with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6As, will be used as a testbed for testing an experimental VK1500 engine.

Under current plans, the main assembly line would be in Russia, but under consideration are plans on a second assembly in a third-world country interested in having an aviation industry of its own.