Ukraine’s Antonov has come a long way since it was last here at the Paris Air Show, but it still has a long way to go. In February, its An-158 regional jet completed initial type certification and first deliveries are pending. The smaller An-148 model has been in service for some time with launch customers Aerosvit (three aircraft) and Rossiya (six).
This year’s show benefits from recent improvements to infrastructure and facilities as organizer Farnborough International continues a 60-year evolution of development begun by the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC). One of the first examples was a re-landscaping of the exhibition site in 1980 to accommodate continuing growth.
In an effort to expand its product line’s international customer base, Antonov is actively pursuing more Western participation in its An-148 regional jet. While 13 Western vendors contribute to Antonov’s newest design, its heavy dependence on Russian partners has hurt the Ukrainian company’s ability to market the airplane outside its traditional sphere of influence.
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.
They’re big. They’re in demand. But they’re getting old, and availability is becoming a problem. That’s why Volga-Dnepr Airlines (VDA) has been pushing so hard for more An-124 Ruslan heavylift freighters to be built. But despite the aircraft’s commercial success since the end of the Cold War, it’s not clear whether renewed production is a priority for Russia’s newly formed, state-owned United Aircraft Co. (OAK).
The dramatic victory of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and his self-styled Orange Revolution in December last year has brought numerous changes to the government of this former Soviet republic–many geared toward ultimate integration into the European Union (EU).
Airbus has issued a new “conservative and interim” recommendation for A380 separation minimums backed by 100 hours of flight testing performed in Toulouse, Istres and Frankfurt.
This month’s 46th International Paris Air Show is already scheduled to feature the world’s largest passenger aircraft and the airliner with the longest range, and if the Ukrainians bring their Antonov An-225, the show will boast the world’s largest aircraft as well.