Last month, we revealed that Russia is keen to have all of its domestic operations handled by aircraft designed by its own companies by the time the 2030s come around. While the Irkut MC-21 is set to be the flagship in this department, the jet isn’t the only plane that will be introduced on short-haul services in the country this decade. It will be joined by the Ilyushin Il-114-300.
The next level
The Il-114-300 holds turbo-propeller engines that will help transport up to 64 passengers on local routes. It is a development on the veteran Il-114 that was introduced in 1998 with Uzbekistan Airways. The new model performed its first flight in December last year and it is expected to enter service in early 2023.
Simple Flying had the chance to spot the Il-114-300 at the MAKS-2021 airshow in Moscow Oblast, Russia, last month. While having a look at the turboprop landing at the fields at Zhukovsky, we had the chance to talk with Rostec, the powerhouse behind Russia’s aviation scene, about the prospects of the plane.
There is a role for both the MC-21 and Il-114-300 across the nation. The MC-21-300’s maximum range of 6,000 km / 3,240 NM and capacity of up to 163 passengers in a two-class configuration makes it a great aircraft to connect medium and large-size communities across Russia’s vast expanse. Meanwhile, the Il-114-300 can reach up to 5,000 km / 2,670 NM if unburdened, also giving it a decent range.
Covering the nation’s needs
The two aircraft are part of a uniformed approach in Russia to bring the aviation industry into the new era with modern solutions to help the country become more self-reliant. This process is evident when it comes to domestic operations, with Rostec outwardly expressing that it seeks to have all of its operations handled by homegrown aircraft by the end of this decade. The Il-114-300 will be playing a major role in the conglomerate’s targets.
“We are a huge country in terms of territory. We cannot sustain development on imported aircraft. We need many units of locally produced aircraft,” Viktor Kladov, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy of the State Corporation Rostec, told Simple Flying at MAKS-2021.
“The latest one is the Il-114-300. We will start producing this aircraft in two years’ time, and it will supply demand for the local airlines.”
Connecting the dots
Despite the range opportunities for the aircraft, it will mainly be focusing on shorter distances. The type of services that it will conduct will also decrease the span. For instance, it will be able to carry a payload of 6.8 tons across a range of 1,400 km / 750 NM. Carrying such loads with modern aircraft such as the Il-114-300 will prove vital in ensuring remote communities across Russia are well catered to when it comes to the transportation of essential goods.
The number of people living in rural areas across Russia has largely remained the same since the fall of the Soviet Union, with the current figure at around 37.2 million. Moreover, there is also a significant number of the country’s population living in small and medium-sized towns. Presently, many of these communities rely on aged planes to connect them between destinations.
These planes are usually small and designed to operate at smaller airfields. The aircraft are also often operating in harsh climates. Russia’s notorious weather can take its toll on air services in the winter months. So, these aspects need to be considered when designing new solutions.
Kladov highlights that the 114-300 can be deployed in areas that have weak airfield infrastructures. Notably, it can perform well at short and unpaved runways. Features such as its built-in airstairs for boarding and alighting will do wonders for passengers traveling on the plane in tough conditions.
Rostec notes that the plane has a condition-based operation system without overhauls. This factor minimizes operational costs when it comes to maintenance, giving an overall design life of 30,000 flights and a service life of three decades.
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The demand is there
Carriers such as Polar Airlines and KrasAvia have shown their interest in taking on the plane. Both carriers are based in Siberia and operate in challenging conditions.
These airlines have largely relied on aged Antonov models over the years to fly between Aldan, Chersky, Tiksi, Yakutsk, Tura, Baikit, Vanavara, and Katanga, among several other remote regions. The operators are keen to modernize their fleets, with the likes of the ATR 72-500 joining KrasAvia’s holdings. However, Russia’s aviation industry will be determined to introduce the Il-114-300 soon to avoid many additional foreign short-haul units arriving at the country’s fleets this decade.
It was also revealed that Aurora, an airline based in Russia’s Far East, signed a deal for 19 units of the 114-300 last month. So, momentum is evidently building for the plane.
It won’t only be commercial carriers taking on the type. Numerous local, cargo, and military firms will appreciate the plane. The aircraft has a speed of up to 500 km/h (310 mph), a max flight altitude of 7,600 m (24,935 ft), a takeoff distance of 1,600 m (5,250 ft), and a landing distance of 550 m (1805 ft). Therefore, there is plenty of potential for the Il-114-300 as it prepares to enter service in just two years.
What are your overall thoughts about the Ilyushin Il-114-300? How do you feel it compares to other turboprops across the globe? Let us know what you think of the aircraft and its prospects in the comment section.