Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Russia Plans An-148 Production In India

Aviation Daily Dec 21 , 2010 , p. 02
Neelam Mathews

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is in discussions with some of India’s medium- and large-scale corporations for setting up a production facility in India for the Antonov An-148, UAC President Alexei Fyodorov told Aviation Week.

He cited inexpensive labor, skilled engineers and good climate as primary reasons for the decision. A partner is likely to be announced in 2011.

“We deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. in the military area and would like to look at a private industry partner for this venture,” Fyodorov said.

The 75-seat aircraft (when in a single-class configuration) would be produced in passenger and cargo versions. It can fly to small cities with poorly equipped airfields with a runway length of 1900 meters.

India has signed a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement with Russia that will enable production once the terms are finalized with the Indian partner. Meanwhile, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been in talks with IAC, its Russian regulatory affiliate and UAC to certify AN-148 for which a sale has already been made to a prospective Indian regional carrier awaiting its launch.

Russia had earlier tried to sell the turboprop IL-114 in 2008, which was not successful given the fact a  recession hit the world market around the same time. “Lets face it. Once you have the jet comfort on the same route, the probability is that customers will prefer that,” says R. N. Tandon, managing director, Hindavia Aeronautical Services, representing UAC in India.

While the cargo version will not be available until 2014, the company is confident it will sell 15-20 passenger version An-148s to Indian clients.

While the Indian military is familiar with the Antonovs with many in its stable, negotiations are already on for training and maintenance, says Tandon.

An MRO facility has already been identified to maintain the first Antonov 148 once it gets the DGCA clearance.

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