Weeks after claiming that the rumors about a partnership with Canada were not true, Antonov admitted that it is in talks with the Quebec government to jointly develop a civil aircraft.
Details of the negotiations were revealed by the daily Le Devoir in early July, but denied by the Ukrainian planemaker. However, the company has now recognized that negotiations have taken place with a Canadian partner to enable the production of a modernized variant of the An-74TK-200 aircraft.
According to Antonov, a proposal was presented to Ukroboronprom, the Ukrainian state-owned company, and the country’s government and was included in a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Canadian government in June.
The multi-purpose aircraft is expected to receive several upgrades with the aim of replacing Russian-origin components such as engines and avionics. The retrofitted An-74 would be produced in Canada and Ukraine for domestic and export sales.
According to Le Devoir, the representative of the Ukrainian manufacturer would have created Antonov Aircraft Canada subsidiary at the beginning of the year, already paving the way for the agreement.
The possible joint venture between the province of Québec, where Canada’s main aeronautical facilities are located, and Ukraine, presents some potential aspects. The end of the CRJ programs and the Dash 8 turboprop (for now) left a huge spare capacity that could benefit from a new aircraft design.
The An-74, in turn, is an aircraft with recognized characteristics of operating on short and unprepared runways and in adverse weather. However, it is a very obsolete project.
The configuration of engines on the wings to take advantage of the COANDA effect resulted in a cruising speed slightly higher than that of some turboprops, and its capacity is not quite impressive – the An-74TK-200 can carry 10 tons of cargo or 52 passengers.
A variant for regional flights could take advantage of the huge demand in North America, currently served by only one model, the Embraer E175, but the An-74 would need to be stretched to accommodate up to 76 passengers, for example.
Faced with the crisis that Antonov is going through after the break in relations between Ukraine and Russia, until then its main client, it left the planemaker in a very delicate situation. For this reason, it will not be so easy to find a path that makes it a profitable company.
Image credit: Oleg V. Belyakov/CC