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Last Il-114 delivered?

last-il-114-delivered24 May 2013 saw the Tashkent Aircraft Production Corp. (TAPC) delivered the sixth – and last – Ilyushin Il-114-100 turboprop passenger aircraft under the 2007 contact to the Uzbekistan Airways, the flag carrier of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The aircraft with c/n 02-09 was made as far back as a year ago and conducted its maiden flight in Tashkent on 11 July 2012. However, prior to its acceptance, the customer wished a number of modifications introduced, which had taken almost 10 months. Finally, the work was completed this spring, and the aircraft (reg. UK-91109) shall start scheduled services in Uzbekistan soon. In spite of the backlog remaining at the plant, the aircraft is likely to be the last Il-114 and the last new plane at all  made and flight-tested in Tashkent.

Over the two decades of full-rate production of the Il-114 aircraft family by TAPC, 16 aircraft in various versions were built from 1992 to 2012. Of them, only one, the Il-114LL flying test-bed (reg. 91003, c/n 01-09) is airworthy in Russia now. It is powered by Klimov TV7-117SM engines and operated by the Radar-MMS scientific and production association in St. Petersburg. Seven Il-114 passenger aircraft powered by Canadian-made PW127H turboprops are in service with Uzbekistan Airways.

There are the airframes of at least two more Il-114-100s and eight Batch 3 aircraft in the Il-114T version, sitting at TAPC. If there were orders and relevant funding, all of them could well be completed and delivered, but this is unlikely due to the Uzbek government’s policy towards the termination of aircraft production at TAPC and conversion of the company to other products.

A solution offered was the establishing of a Russian-Uzbek joint venture to manufacture the Il-114, the need of which has repeatedly been voiced by the Russian authorities. In particular, the aircraft is needed for use in the Antarctic and Arctic in a ski-equipped variant and in patrol and other dedicated versions as well. Several commercial operators, too, have shown interest in the Il-114-100 airliner and its cargo version. According to Ilyushin, 13 Russian carriers had made preliminary requests for 48 aircraft and India’s Indus Airways had submitted a memorandum for 25 planes by last summer, with the Russian commercial operators’ need of aircraft like that until 2030 estimated at 120–140 units and the capacity of the CIS and Asian market at 150–170 units, specialised versions included.

As the first step, the Ilyushin and Uralsib leasing company (since 2007 the latter being the owner of two Il-114s discarded by their former operator, the Vyborg airline) last year looked into the feasibility of having the two aircraft’s airworthiness restored and upgrading them to Il-114-100 standard at the same time. This was to be followed a Russian aircraft manufacturer, say, the Smolensk Aircraft Plant, launching the Il-114-100 assembly – first using the backlog of TAPC-made units and then mastering the full cycle of production. However, it looks like the initiative remained on paper.

At present, the Il-114-100 version, which has proven its efficiency during its scheduled operation by Uzbekistan Airways, is preferable as far as prospects are concerned.

The first Il-114-100 (c/n 02-02), fitted with Canadian-made PW-127H engines with Hamilton Sundstrand propellers and powered by a Honeywell auxiliary powerplant unit, performed its maiden flight on 26 January 1999 and was certificated by the IAC Aircraft Registry in December of the same year (Type Certificate CT178-Il-114-100 dated 24 December 1999). Uzbekistan Airways had operated it since 2003, with the aircraft having logged about 7,500 flight hours by 2010.

In the middle of the previous decade, further upgrade of the Il-114-100 was completed, including the introduction of the advanced TsPNK-114 Collins digital flight navigation suite using a number of foreign-made systems. It is this version that six Il-114-100s were made in for Uzbekistan Airways in 2006–12. The first of them kicked off its scheduled operations in Uzbekistan in August 2008. According to Ilyushin, the Il-114-100s logged a total of 24,600 flight hours as of June 2012, with the monthly flight time per aircraft having averaged about 120 h, which is a rather good result for aircraft in the class.

Under Uzbekistan Airways’ 2013 summer schedule, the carrier’s planes are used on domestic scheduled services from Tashkent to Bukhara, Karshi, Navoi, Nukus, Termez and Urgench (46 return flights a week) and on the weekly Tashkent-Ashgabat flight. Given the average flight just exceeding 2 h, the average monthly flight time of each of the six Il-114-100s may account for about 140 h this summer.

The Il-114s are used for carriage of 64 passengers in the single-class layout with the 762-mm seat pitch or 52 passengers with a pitch of 810 mm on commuter and regional lines. According to Ilyushin, they are superior to their closest rivals (An-140-100, ATR-42-500, ATR-72-500, Q400 and MA60) in terms of fuel efficiency, with their per-hour fuel consumption on a flight with the 4,000-kg payload standing at 490 kg/h and their passenger-kilometre unit cost equalling $0.27.

Despite the Russian market’s obvious demand for advanced turboprop regional aircraft in the Il-114 class and the need of customers in their specialised derivatives, however, the production of the Il-114 remains in limbo. The United Aircraft Corporation is not interested in regional turboprops, and the prospect of contracting non-UAC companies for the Il-114’s production seem to be not feasible, given a heavy investment required. For this reason, no decision on transferring the Il-114’s production to Russia has been made yet. Therefore, the Il-114-100 delivered in May to the Uzbek flag carrier may well be the last aircraft of the type built.

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