UAC is due to fly the first turboprop plane Il-114-300 in September, Russian Industry Minister Oleg Bocharov confirmed on Wednesday. The passenger aircraft is an enhanced version of the original model, created by Ilyushin in the 1980s and first flown in 1990.
With up to 68 seats, the twin-engine turboprop aircraft is expected to enter service in 2023 and have an annual production rate of 12 units. “We will have the maiden flight of the aircraft at the turn of September,” Bocharov told TASS.
The Il-114-300 was officially launched by UAC in the mid-decade with the goal of making the first flight in 2018 and entering service in 2022, but the program was delayed and the first test plane was only ready months ago. The assembly work is in charge of MiG and three other factories that are part of the UAC group. A second prototype, following series production standards, is being assembled and should be ready by the end of the year.
The decision to upgrade the Il-114, a failed turboprop aircraft that had only 20 units built, was a way to cheapen its program and shorten development time.
Competitor for ATR
The Russian government is betting on Il-114-300 as a national alternative to the country’s regional aviation. With a range greater than the ATR, the aircraft uses only Russian components such as the TV7-117ST-01 engine and advanced avionics. One of its differentials is the fact that the turboprop can operate at airports without adequate infrastructure. It has a retractable ladder and ground access for maintenance inspections, says the manufacturer.
The configuration of the original Il-114 has been preserved, with low wings and conventional tail and six-wing propellers. The Ilyushin project is very reminiscent of another regional turboprop, the British Aerospace ATP, a larger and more modern version of the Avro 748 that was launched in the 1980s.
There are no official orders yet, but the Kremlin, through a state-owned leasing company, has already expressed interest in acquiring 50 aircraft. One of the arguments in favor of the Il-114 is to offer 40% more autonomy than the Franco-Italian ATR, besides being in theory cheaper to operate.
If it succeeds in replacing the old military turboprops An-24 and An-26 that are now used on regional routes, the new Russian plane will have achieved a lot. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has been encouraging national civil aircraft development programs such as the SSJ100 and MC-21-300 passenger jets. Even the old four-engine Il-96 is expected to take on a new look while UAC is unable to move forward with the CR-929, a widebody in partnership with China’s COMAC.