Antonov An-148 Prospects Boosted by Russian Military Order

 - June 28, 2013, 11:50 PM
Russia's $550 million order for 15 Antonov An-148s will provide some sorely needed income for aircraft builder VASO to invest in more cost-effective production processes at its Voronezh factory. The facility delivered only five An-148s last year and lost more than $36 million

The Russian ministry of defense (MoD) has awarded United Aircraft (UAC) a firm order for 15 Antonov An-148 twinjets, according to UAC president Mikhail Pogosian, speaking at the Paris Air Show. The contract is worth Rouble 18 billion ($550 million). The delivery schedule calls for one aircraft this year, eight in 2014-2015 and six in 2016-2017. The Russian government has previously expressed a need for 130 jetliners for various government agencies. This requirement includes 59 An-148s, according to minister for industry and trade Denis Manturov.

The MoD order is highly profitable for aircraft maker VASO, a UAC factory in Voronezh, with some 25 percent margin over the manufacturing expenses. This contract, along with another for six Il-96-300s for VIP transport, is meant to help the plant establish cost-effective production. VASO lost Rouble 1.2 billion ($36.5 million) in the past year, despite a rise in revenues to Rouble 8.8 billion ($268 million). Last year the factory delivered only one An-148-100EA to the Russian government’s special air detachment (a second is due by year-end) and one An-148-100EM to the Ministry for Emergencies (a second is due this summer), along with three An-148-100Es to Ilyushin Finance (IFC), which subsequently placed them with the airline Angara.

Speaking to AIN at Paris, Alexander Roubtsov, general manager at IFC, said the MoD order “will help gear-up type production at the Voronezh plants, from which commercial buyers will only benefit.” The military order will enable VASO to invest in advanced manufacturing methods and equipment, and to master lean, resource-saving technologies. IFC holds orders for 34 An-148s, and another commercial buyer, Savings Bank, has ordered 10. Thus far, 11 aircraft have been delivered, split between the two.

Eighteen An-148s are currently in service (plus two extended-fuselage An-158s), counting both Russian- and Ukraine-built examples, and to date they have carried two million passengers, according to Antonov. The design house is shaping the An-148-300MP maritime patrol version with 10-hour loitering capability and armed with anti-ship missiles, unguided rockets, depth charges and 23-mm cannon pods. This version is aimed at Russian and Ukrainian MoDs and is also on offer to India. In addition, Antonov is developing the An-178, a ramp-equipped airlifter based on the An-148 and able to carry a 16-metric-ton payload 3,800 km. At the Paris Air Show, Antonov president and general designer Dmytro Kiva said the first prototype is under construction for an anticipated maiden flight next year.