More Russian commercial aviation news. After the first flight of the Irkut MC-21 with Russian PD-14 engines on December 15, today has seen the first flight of the revamped Ilyushin Il-114-300 turboprop. The aircraft performed its maiden flight out of the Zhukovsky airfield near Moscow.
The -300 is the incarnation of the original Il-114, which was developed in the late eighties and made her first flight in 1990. The program was marred by financial and technical difficulties, including the crash of the second prototype in which the crew was killed. The type has seen a brief and unsuccessful history, with only fourteen aircraft produced before production was suspended in 2012. Uzbekistan Airways used to operate five.
As part of Russia’s plans to modernize its commercial airliner programs, the redesigned Il-114-300 got government approval in 2014 and was confirmed in 2015. It only includes components from Russian suppliers from the Rostec consortium, including the two updated United Engine Corporation/Klimov TB7-117JST-01 engines with newly designed propellers.
The updated cabin can seat up to 68 passengers in a single class. Also new is the cockpit, which now includes digital instrumentation with Category II landing capabilities. In an interview on the Ilyushin website in June 2019, Ilyushin director Yury Grudinin called the -300 an “off-road aircraft” suitable for remote and rugged airfield in harsh climates in Siberia.
The first aircraft has been produced in 2019 and rolled out in full livery on the last day of 2019. Two test aircraft are planned to be produced, with the second in an advanced stage at the factory in Lukhovitsy near Moscow. The site has the capability to produce twelve aircraft per month, Grudinin said. Certification is planned for 2022 with deliveries to follow in 2023.
That’s optimistic, as orders for the new turboprop have been slow to arrive. Lessor State Transport Leasing Corporation signed a Letter of Intent for fifty aircraft during the MAKS airshow in 2017. Siberian airline KrasAvia has shown interest in operating the Il-114-300 but said in May it will opt for ATRs as the Ilyushin is unlikely to enter commercial service before 2024.
Aeroflot subsidiary Aurora has a fleet of Dash 8-200s, -300s, and -400s that might be up for replacement in the coming decade, but so far Aeroflot’s long-term strategy doesn’t seem to include the latest Russian turboprop.