Russian Government Is Launch Customer For VIP An-148
The first example of a VIP-configured Antonov An-148 regional airliner is due to enter service by year-end, after flying for the first time early in October. Three of the An-148-100EA versions of the twinjet are currently being completed at United Aircraft Corporation’s Vaso factory in Voronezh, Russia. Back in December 2011, the Russian government awarded a contract valued at almost $66 million for two of the aircraft and it has indicated that it may subsequently order four more. These aircraft will be operated by the country’s Special Air Detachment, which transports senior government officials.
Meanwhile, in November Russia’s Ministry for Emergencies is set to become the first operator of a medical evacuation version of the An-148. In November 2010, the government department signed a $78 million contract for two of the medevac aircraft.
This An-148ChS model (also referred to as the An-148-100EM) also is being prepared by the Vaso plant. A Vaso spokesman told AIN that the new version of the 70-seat airliner will be delivered with a quick-conversion cabin. This will allow it to be switched from a medevac application to VIP use and also for full-capacity passenger missions.
The second An-148ChS will have a higher gross weight and larger fuel tanks to allow for long-haul flights of up to 3,782 nm. It will replace the ministry’s aging four-engined Ilyushin Il-62M jets.
The An-148 is a joint Russian-Ukrainian program and the Kiev-based Antonov is also offering its own VIP versions of the larger An-148-300 (formerly referred to as the Antonov Business Jet or An-168). According to Antonov spokeswoman Oksana Trofimchuk, the company sees demand for at least 50 executive versions of the aircraft.
Carrying nine passengers and a flight attendant, the An-148-300 offer range of 3,885 nm or up to 3,500 nm with 38 passengers. The Ukrainian government is considering a possible order to supplement the An-74-300 currently used to carry President Victor Yanukovich.