Booth of the Ukrainian Antonov company gains a lot of attention during the Paris Le Bourget Air Show, as it features the latest Antonov’s transport aircraft – the AN-178.The aeroplane made its maiden flight a month ago, it is an interesting offer for numerous potential customers.The design interconnects the speed of a jet-propelled airframe together with the abilities of landing on unprepared airstrips, it also offers significant payload carrying capacity and range.The design is even more attractive, when one realizes that the Antonov’s new jet may use western avionics and engines.
The Antonov company has gathered significant experience within the field of the transport aviation, however, in the light of the crisis situation between Moscow and Kiev the company is looking for new target markets. An-178 is to be available both with the indigenous, as well as the western avionics. It is also possible to order the plane with a Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce or GE power-plant.
An-178 is the latest Antonov’s design, its maiden flight took place in autumn 2015. This aircraft is based on a very successful family of the An-148/158 jet liners and it shares numerous components with these designs, including avionics and engines.
It is a transport aircraft which is capable of carrying large-volume loads, such as the sea transport containers, 90 soldiers with a full kit of equipment or 80 paratroops. When it comes to its dimensions and mass, An-178 falls within the class between C-27 Spartan or An-74 and much larger aircraft such as C-130, An-70 or A400M. Brazilian Embraeer KC-390 is a design of similar class.
The Ukrainian jet is configured in a way which would make it possible for it to replace the An-12 turboprops which are quite popular in Asia and Africa. Usually they carry 11-12 tonnes of load at distances of 2-3 thousand kilometres. The data is related to almost 70% of the transport sorties realized by this type of aircraft. An-178 is capable of realizing such operations with fuel consumption at a level similar to An-12, however its speed is 35% higher, thanks to the fact that the new design uses turbo-jet propulsion. The aircraft’s economic ceiling is 12200 meters – An-12 reaches altitudes of up to 8500 meters.
With the maximum payload capacity of 18 tonnes, An-178 is capable of covering distances longer than 1000 km. With an average load of 10 tonnes, the aircraft is capable to reach the range of 4000 km. Maximum speed – 825 km/h. An-178 has STOL capabilities, and is capable of using unprepared runways, which expands its operational capabilities, particularly within the areas that do not have sufficient infrastructure. The price is estimated at the level of USD 20-25 million per single example, depending on its avionics and configuration.
The more expensive variants are said to utilize the western avionics, and – probably – the new western power-plant. Despite the above, the An-178 price, is, according to the claims made by the manufacturer, two times lower than in case of the western designs with similar operational capabilities. The Antonov company hopes to convince numerous new users to acquire the new airplane – not only those who represent the traditional markets. So far, Ukrainian Armed Forces, several civilian users and a Chinese company which is willing to obtain a license for manufacturing the new Antonovs within the local market have all expressed interest in the new design created by the Ukrainian manufacturer.