Demand for business aviation in Russia and the wider Commonwealth of Independent States is continuing to excite aircraft manufacturers and service providers alike, especially with the nearby markets of Western Europe remaining largely stagnant. Russia was not untouched by fallout from the financial crisis that started in 2008, but for most of the past 10 years has sustained strong business aviation growth.
The first example of a VIP-configured Antonov An-148 regional airliner is due to enter service by year-end, after flying for the first time early in October. Three of the An-148-100EA versions of the twinjet are currently being completed at United Aircraft Corporation’s Vaso factory in Voronezh, Russia.
The anticipated signing of a government-to-government deal between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Victor Yanukovich, is expected to kick-start a plan to resume production of Antonov’s An-124 Ruslan freighter.
Russian leasing company Ilyushin Finance (IFC) signed a firm order for 10 Antonov An-158s in late June. The $300 million contract calls for Antonov’s manufacturing branch in Kiev to build the airplanes from 2012 to 2014 for delivery primarily to Latin American airlines.
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).
Irkut has signed a memorandum of understanding with VEB Leasing, a subsidiary of Russian-based Vnesheconombank, for 15 firm and 15 optional MC-21 narrowbody airliners. The signing took place on Monday and the Russian airframer’s CEO, Oleg Demchenko, promised more contracts will come here at the show.
Last week bidders handed in their latest proposals for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-X program, which seeks 179 new tanker/transports to replace the aging KC-135 fleet. The deadline had been extended to allow EADS North America to prepare a new proposal following the withdrawal of Northrop Grumman, with whom EADS had been partnered until March.
The first Antonov An-148 built by Russia’s Voronezh Aircraft Plant (VASO), registration RA-61701, took its second flight today, two days after performing its maiden mission over the weekend. The first flight originated at 2 p.m. local time this past Sunday and lasted a little less than one hour. Operating at a takeoff weight of some 75,750 pounds, the airplane reached maximum altitude of nearly 16,500 feet and speed of 300 knots.
Ukrainian airline AeroSvit launched passenger service with the first Antonov An-148-100 regional jet on a June 2 flight between Borispol International Airport, outside Kiev, and Kharkov, in northeastern Ukraine. Built by Kiev’s Aviant and used to gain CIS certification in 2007, the 70-seat regional jet took off from Kiev Borispol at 1:30 p.m. and landed in Kharkov at 2:50 p.m.
Ukrainian airline AeroSvit launched passenger service with an Antonov An-148-100 regional jet prototype on a June 2 flight between the capital Kiev and Kharkov in the northeast of the country, replacing an An-24 and a Yak-42 previously used on this route. The 70-seat regional jet was the aircraft used by Antonov to complete certification, according to a representative from Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. (OAK).