MOSCOW, June 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is to build a new light utility aircraft in cooperation with an Austrian plane-maker in response to a need to revive Russia's flagging local air services in remote areas.
The agreement between Rostec high-technology corporation's subsidiary Ural Civil Aviation Works (UZGA) and Austria’s Diamond Aircraft International (DAI), was signed on the first day of the Le Bourget air show near Paris.
“Today, local aviation in Russia is in a severe crisis, as there are no state-of-the-art quality light aircraft at affordable prices,” Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov said on Monday according to a company press release.
“The An-2 and L-410 currently in service have low fuel efficiency and high operating costs,” he added, explaining that the new aircraft produced under this deal will allow “the obsolete fleet to be replaced.”
Russia has suffered a massive fall in regional air services since the collapse of the USSR in 1991. The nation has a huge demand for air transport in remote areas where there are no rail or road links, especially in Siberia.
The Russian government has recently made revival of local aviation services a key priority, and has started a program to redevelop local airports and subsidize regional air services.
Last August, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called on local industry and the government to develop a new regional aircraft, possibly with the participation of foreign partners.
While neither company indicated how much the deal could be worth, Rostec said there is market demand in Russia for about 200 planes with a capacity of between 9 – 19 people each.
The new plane is destined for “local air carriers operating within 400 – 1,000 km flights,” said Alexei Fyodorov, Rostec’s managing director for aviation projects.
The aircraft and its diesel engines will initially be entirely Austrian-built, but component production will later be moved to Russia, and eventually both the aircraft and engines will be entirely Russian-made, Rostec said.
The first Russian-made light aircraft will enter service in 2016, Rostec said.
The agreement also envisages Russian production of 190 h.p. rotary engines for civil and military unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and diesel aircraft engines, Rostec said.
Other Western manufacturers, including Czech plane-maker Evektor and Canada’s Bombardier have also held talks with Russian partners over possible license manufacturing of their regional aircraft in Russia, but so far without result.