The Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (Knaapo) has launched series production of the six-seat Be-103 light amphibious aircraft. Forty aircraft intended for export deliveries in 2005-2007 are now in production and total orders amount to 100 units.
The firm obtained a Brazilian airworthiness certification two months ago, which opened the way to Latin America. Brazil became the second state to certify the Russian amphibian, with the country’s MSA Group to take delivery of the first Be-103 early 2006. Since the aircraft was certified in 2003 by U.S. authorities five Be-103s have been delivered to U.S. customers. The aircraft is now going through certification in Europe and Canada.
The completion of the certification process in China scheduled for the end of this month will allow the manufacturer to start immediate deliveries to the People’s Republic. Preliminary plans suggest that the first 20 aircraft will be supplied to China over the next 12 months.
The Harbin-based carrier Flying Dragon is the Chinese launch customer, having ordered 20 of the amphibian. In addition, an agreement was signed with the airline on setting up an operations support center for the Be-103 in China. Opening such a center with a spare parts warehouse will provide reliable service support.
The manufacturer’s confidence in ramping up production is based on successful operations conducted by the first five amphibians in Russia. Two of these are part of Knaapo’s own fleet. They performed several technical flights between Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Khabarovsk to assess the feasibility of establishing an air taxi service between the two cities. The amphibians can also be used for mail delivery in the Khabaovsk region and for forest area patrols planned to begin next year.
Another two Be-103s were purchased by the Beriev Tantk aircraft company. They will fly along the Black Sea coastline where a network of landing points will be established. The fifth Be-103 was leased to the town of Kubinka’s flying club for demonstration to potential buyers in Moscow.
The Be-103 is intended for a wide range of missions, including cargo/passenger operations, emergency medical transport, patrol missions for various agencies, fire precaution surveillance, ecological monitoring, and tourism. The amphibious performance of the Be-103 also makes it ideal for use in regions rich in rivers, and lakes, areas that are hard-to-reach by other transports.
Knaapo is a subsidiary of the Sukhoi corporation and can be found here on Stand E711.