To develop the country's regional aviation, the Ministry of Industry and Trade launched a contest to design a new short-haul regional feeder airliner, which will replace the legendary AN-2 nicknamed "Kukuruznik" (from the Russian word meaning "maize duster").
In October 2019, Baikal-Engineering LLC, a subsidiary of the Ural Works of Civil Aviation (UWCA) won a tender, based on the requirements of potential operators for the development of a light multi-purpose aircraft (LMA). At present, the company has completed an avant-project, which has received a favourable opinion of the relevant institutions (Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, Central Institute of Aviation Motors, All-Russian Institute Of Aviation Materials) and which is recommended for execution and completion.
Why Baikal Engineering?
UWCA has decided to create an aircraft, which will replace the An-2, using the facilities of its subsidiary, Baikal Engineering, since it is expected that a number of partners will participate in the project, including the National Research Center “Zhukovsky Institute”, as well as several investors and enterprises engaged in cooperation. One of the possible participants is the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (Buryatia), where the aircrafts are planned to be produced.
In this connection, the legal address of Baikal-Engineering is in Ulan-Ude, while the engineering team will actually work in Moscow.
UWCA is a provider of tailor-made maintenance, repair and overhaul services for small aviation. The company started working in 1993 in conjunction with the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI). The UWCA Engineering Center (EC) was created on the basis of the MAI Design Bureau. Nowadays more than 300 engineers work in it and the Center is certified as an Accredited Developer. The UWCA EC specialists possess unique competencies allowing them to develop light and short-haul regional feeder airliners for the Russian air fleet. This is even more true since earlier, in the days of the USSR, the companies specializing in the development and production of light aircraft and helicopters were located not in Russia, but in Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania.
Up to the present date, the engineering team has already created such aircrafts as Aviatika-MAI-890U and MAI-223, MAI-411 (in conjunction with MAI), Viscount V-100, and various modifications of L-410 19-seater regional airliners and DA-42 training aircrafts.
Baikal-Engineering will rely on the available resources of the UWCA Engineering Center — many of the professional employees have already been transferred to the newly formed company.
Completion of the design phase does not mean completion of the project. When creating an aircraft, it is necessary to take into account other aspects of its further life cycle, including manufacturability, convenience, and reliability in operation.
All these factors directly affect cost per flying hour and determine commercial success. Over the past 20 years, UWCA produced and delivered more than 200 light and short-haul airplanes. A vast experience in their operation has been accumulated. The company will successfully apply the acquired skills and knowledge to the new project.
About the project
A light multi-purpose aircraft is being designed for local airlines as part of the regional aviation development program. One of the main novelties and a tribute to time is the airframe modularity, which allows creating modifications depending on their purpose: for passenger and cargo transportation, for military parachuting, patrolling and monitoring, for search and rescue, for ambulance aviation, for unmanned flights, for aerial distribution of chemicals, etc.
The requirements, set by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in many respects exceed similar specifications of the An-2:
• Rated cruising airspeed — at least 300 km / h;
• Rated practical cruising range with a maximum payload of 2,000 kg and emergency navigation supplies (ENS) sufficient for 45 minutes of flight - at least 1,500 km;
• Maximum take-off weight — 4800 kg;
• Take-off and landing performance — corresponding or exceeding the characteristics of the An-2 aircraft;
• Aluminum alloy airframe ensuring field maintainability of the aircraft and allowing hangarless storage;
• Passenger capacity —9 people (according to FAR requirements with the possibility of increasing the number of seats up to 12 in the future);
• Target cost of the serially produced aircraft - not exceeding 120 million rubles in the prices for the year of 2020;
• Target cost of the aircraft operation per flying hour (excluding the cost of ownership) — not more than 30,000.00 rubles.
The estimated cost of the project is about 4.5 billion rubles, including the cost of type certification.
A 1,25 billion ruble contract was signed with the Ministry of Industry and Trade for performance of the first phase of these works.
According to the contract, the first prototype (a model for static tests) will be created by the end of 2020. Testing should begin in mid-2021. Certification is planned for 2022, and mass production will be launched in 2023.
As of today, Polar Airlines (Yakutia), Naryan-Mar United Aviation Squadron (Nenets Autonomous Okrug), 2nd Arkhangelsk United Aviation Division (Arkhangelsk Oblast), Trans-Baikal Aeroservice and others operators have expressed their interest in these aircrafts.
Monitoring has showed that, within 5 years from the date of certification, the Russian operators are ready to acquire at least 110 aircrafts via a purchase or on operating leases (financial lease is an option, which covers about 50-70 aircrafts in the Russian Federation and at least 50 in the CIS market). Thus, the immediate market demand for these aircrafts is expected to be 230 planes.
“The main difficulty is the narrow deadlines for the project execution. At the same time, there is no margin for error. The new aircraft is being created to replace the legendary An-2, which made its first flight more than 70 years ago. More than 18,000 planes of this type were built during this period! The project attracts particular attention of the industry leaders and the whole country. On the one hand, this imposes great responsibility on us, but, on the other, allows us to attract the best professionals and to apply state-of-the-art technologies available in aircraft design and manufacturing” — said Vadim BADEKHA, General Director of UWCA.