Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation-owned Beriev has begun negotiating the sale of Be-200 amphibians with Indian regional airlines. The development follows the inclusion of seaplanes under the recently announced third phase of India’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), which allows seaplanes to serve 18 routes. The seaplane operations would add more than 100,000 seats.
The RCS provides initiatives for aircraft operators to connect underserved and remote airports.
Initially designed for fire extinguishing, the Be-200 flies to a range of 1,780 nm and can land on the ground, ice-covered airfields, and on water. Beriev has now begun a program to re-engine the amphibian with PowerJet SaM146 turbofans built by a joint venture between Russia’s NPO Saturn and France’s Snecma. The new engine will increase its operational ceiling to 33,000 feet and improve fuel efficiency by 17 percent compared with its present Ukrainian D-436TPs.
“This is a unique aircraft without the need to be based at an airport," Beriev general director Yuri Grudinin said at the recently concluded Aero India air show in Bangalore. “We are holding talks with potential partners [here].” The airplane can take off and land on water with a wave height of up to 1.3 meters. In areas with underdeveloped ground infrastructure, the Be-200 can deploy on a 130- by 70-meter paved area equipped with a slipway.
Grudinin said infrastructure for operating the amphibian and regulatory approvals remain challenges. To make the operations feasible, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has appointed a team consisting of officials from the Airports Authority of India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to carry out a feasibility study in around 20 locations for seadromes.
Beriev Aircraft last year sold four Be-200s with an option for six more—two with Ukrainian D-436TP engines and the rest with SaM146 engines—to U.S.-based Seaplane Global Air Services.