Russia is not only developing a new series of commercial aircraft, but also seeking a replacement for the legendary Antonov An-2, a radial-engined piston biplane that is still used today in remote regions of the immense nation.
The most likely candidate is the LMS-901 Baikal, a single-engine turboprop designed by Baikal Engineering. The aircraft had its first prototype unveiled at MAKS 2021 and should have performed its maiden flight this year.
But, according to a statement by Dennis Manturov, Russian Industry and Trade Minister, “This will definitely take place early [next] year,” in response to TASS on Wednesday.
Unlike other major projects, Baikal is not owned by United Aircraft Corporation but by Ural Works of Civil Aviation, based in Yekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk).
The company will begin series production of the utility single-engine in 2023, with expectations of reaching 300 aircraft by 2030.
The LMS-901 Baikal is equipped with an H80 engine developed by GE Aviation at its subsidiary in the Czech Republic. The aircraft can carry nine passengers or 2 tons of payload over distances of up to 1,500 km.
The turboprop is capable of reaching 300 km/h and is configured with a conventional landing gear, such as the An-2. Its main competitors are the Cessna Caravan and the Pilatus PC-6. The price of Baikal is estimated at $1.6 million.
Despite the modern design, the Baikal has a huge challenge ahead as the An-2 had more than 18,000 aircraft produced by 2001, a milestone almost impossible to overcome.