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Antonov AN-178 / Regional Transport Aircraft

The experience in design, construction, and operation of transport aircraft in combination with innovative aviation technologies are embodied in a new freighter AN-178 developed by ANTONOV. One of the fundamental tendencies is replacement of four-engined turboprop transport aircraft with by two-engined jet ones. Having close fuel consumption by the hour, twin-jet provides much higher efficiency on a route as compared to a four turboprop-powered transport aircraft owing to almost 40 percent higher cruising speed.

This advanced aircraft will replace the AN-12. It will carry cargo weighing up to 18 tons and operate at the same airfields as the AN-12 including unpaved ones. It has a more spacious, fully pressurized cargo compartment, where maritime containers and IATA containers can be placed. The AN-178 will be equipped with digital avionics, "glass" cockpit, and two jet engines.

AN-178 belongs to the high-tech Ukrainian projects, which are actively developed. The aircraft had been designing within less than 3.5 years. In 20 days after completion of the aircraft construction it rose into the sky. Less than in a month, the AN-178 successfully debuted at Le Bourget – 2015 Air Show. Nowadays, a new transport passes the test program. Within a period from November 8 to 12, the aircraft will be displayed at Dubai Air Show – 2015. AN-178 has to become a worthy continuation of a line of world-known ANTONOV aircraft, including: AN-2 ANnushka, AN-22 ANtaeus, AN-124 RuslAN, AN-225 Mriya. According to Oleg Antonov's allies, he gave to the aircraft the names with "AN" in their structure.

The founder of the factory, Oleg Antonov, began the tradition of naming its aircraft. The names he gave his aircraft contained the first two letters of his surname (An). Thus, the An-2 aircraft was named “Annushka", the An-22 aircraft was named "Antei", the An-124 aircraft was name "Ruslan", and the An-225 aircraft was named "Mria". However, Antonov aircraft are known by other names in NATO countries. The An-2 is known as “Colt”, the An-22 is known as “Cock”, the An-124 is known as “Condor”, and the An-225 is known as “Cossack”. These airplanes are considered transport aircraft in the American aircraft classification, which is why their NATO names begin with the capital letter "C", which denotes the word “Cargo”.

The staff of the Antonov state aircraft manufacturing enterprise initiated a competition to name the new An-178 transport airplane. The competition will be held from 22 October to 19 December 2015, the press service of the enterprise said.

On the basis of main tasks to be performed by medium military transports, the AN-178 will be able to perform tasks within logistic support of troops, to carry and airdrop military personnel and cargoes, to transport injured and light equipment, to deliver equipment and engines. Unique feature of the AN-178 is ability to carry all the type of the existing packaged freights (containerized and palletized ones). Besides, as other ANTONOV’s aircraft, the AN-178 also has characteristics, so necessary to transport aircraft: ability to be operated from/to any runway, self-regulation, high reliability and combat vitality.

The AN-178’s maintasks includes: transportation of armed soldiers; evacuation of sick and woundedpersons; aerial delivery of paratroopers,vehicles and cargoes; participation inspecial and humanitarian missions. In case of necessity, the AN-178 can carry 99 soldiers, 80 paratroops or evacuate 70 sick and wounded persons. Other technical, operational and economic characteristics will be improved compared with the AN-12 as well.

One of the closest competitors of the An-178 cargo aircraft is the Russian-Indian medium-range transport aircraft MTA. The MTA, in its variant as a military transport aircraft, is intended primarily to replace the An-12 and An-26 aircraft in the Russian Air Force and the An-32 military transport aircraft in the Indian Air Force. According to the Ukrainian aviation experts, in 2012 sales market for An-178 was estimated at about 800 aircraft over 10-12 years. Taking into account the cost of the aircraft at USD 20-25 million, the total market is estimated to range from USD 14 billion to USD 20 billion. Other market studies estimate that military and civil customers would generate worldwide demand for more than 400 AN-178 aircraft.

In comparison with the AN-12, its maximum cruising speed will be increased by 225 km/h, service ceiling by 3,000 meters, and flight range with cargo of 10 tons will be increased by 800 km. Construction of the first AN-178 prototype and the start of flight tests were planned for 2014. High commonality of the AN-178 with the already certified AN-158 will assist in reducing the time and cost of the aircraft trials and the launch of its serial production.

President and Chief Designer of Antonov State Enterprise Dmytro Kiva told Interfax-AVN: "We see that there is a vacant segment of aircraft with a larger carrying capacity than our An-74 and Italy's C-27 have, and less than the U.S. C-130 aircraft has. The segment is vacant. We want to occupy it with the An-178. We see that the aircraft of this class are in great demand".

He said that comparing the An-178 and An-12, we could see that the cargo compartment of the new aircraft is larger. "However, it is airtight, unlike the compartment of the An-12. The fuel efficiency of the An-178 jet is better than the fuel efficiency of the An-12 with a turbo-prop engine. The An-178 will be integrated as much as possible. We'll take the wing from the An-158, as well as the tail assembly. We have the engine and its thrust will be increased only for emergency situations. Only the fuselage behind the control cabin will be expanded and the center-section will be increased. The aircraft looks good. We want to fly it in 2014," Kiva said.

Antonov signed an agreement in 2011 with the Volga-Dnepr Group (Russia) to jointly move ahead on development of the An-178 military transport aircraft. In 2011 Turkey was considering purchasing the new An-178 military transport aircraft, to be used as a patrol aircraft and a base for an airborne early warning system, according to Ukrainian accounts of a meeting between the Ukrainian and Turkish defense ministers. Brazil and Norway were also reportedly interested in the An-178 military transport aircraft.

The Antonov state enterprise began construction of a prototype of the An-178 cargo jet. By September 2013, the preparatory work for the construction of the assembly jig for the fuselage had been completed. The F-1 (nose) and F- 2 (middle) sections had been manufactured. The first components – the cover, stringer, and the canopy of the F-1 frame – had already been added to the assembly jig for the An-178. The cover, stringer, and the frames for assembly of the F-2 are in the production stage.

The ANTONOV Company presented its modern programs at the Farnborough – 2014 exhibition, held 14–20 July near London. The work program of the ANTONOV’s delegation, headed by Dmytro Kiva, President – General Designer, included a number of meetings and negotiations, directed to development of interaction with European companies and aircraft operators. Among perspective programs that may be the basis for development of this cooperation is the AN-178 new transport aircraft. The AN-178 maiden flight was planned to be performed in the beginning of 2015. The market demand for this aircraft is evaluated to 200 transports till year 2032.

By 2014 Motor Sich was unable to provide an upgraded version of its engines on time. Antonov was also considering other firms to equip the An-178. Such Western companies include Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce. In addition, Western aircraft engines have European certificates, and the Zaporozhe-made engines had only IAC certificates, which covered CIS countries. However, Antonov believed it would equip the An-178 with locally manufactured engines and find an acceptable technical solution for installation and certification of aircraft.

On December 29, 2015, ANTONOV Company completed assembly of a fuselage for the second experimental AN-178 medium transport aircraft and aggregates of a fuselage for the first AN-132 demonstrator light transport aircraft. Ceremony of roll out of the AN-178 fuselage and AN-132 nose part was held in one of the ANTONOV’s assembly shops. Congratulating the collective on this result, Mykhaylo Gvozdov, Head of ANTONOV Company, said in particular: “these works were performed in strict compliance with a schedule. So, we are meeting our engagements in relation to our partners and fixed terms of these programmes development”.

In the ANTONOV Company’s history, the year of 2015 is the year of new Antonov transport aircraft. The enterprise completed the AN-178 prototype and began the flight test program. Demonstration of the AN-178 at the biggest air shows in Paris and Dubai attracted attention of many potential customers. Till present, firm orders for 40 such airplanes were received.

Antonov state aircraft manufacturing enterprise had a firm contract for 10 An-178 aircraft. As it turned out, the Ukrainian and Azerbaijani sides signed a protocol of intent in May 2015. "One year ago, we signed a protocol of intent with our Azerbaijani partners. After that, we worked for a year, discussing the concept of the airplane and its equipment. We signed a so-called firm contract after one year, and we have already received advance payment," Antonov state aircraft manufacturing enterprise’s head Mykhailo Hvozdev said. The last statement reveals a second detail – money. The Antonov state aircraft manufacturing enterprise has received advance payment. However, Hvozdev did not disclose the size of the advance payment or the total value of the contract. The third detail involves the delivery date. Hvozdev announced the date of delivery of the first two An-178 aircraft to Azerbaijan. They will be delivered in the middle of 2018. The dates of manufacture and delivery of the remaining eight aircraft have not yet been announced. "We are currently at the stage of negotiations. It will all depend on our partners," he said.

On December 17, 2015, ANTONOV Company and «TAQNIA AERONAUTICS», Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, signed the «Memorandum of Understanding». This document confirms the parties’ intension to deliver 30 multipurpose AN-178 aircraft to Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

According to Retired Major General Ali Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, President of «TAQNIA AERONAUTICS», «Signing of this Memorandum is the next significant step in development of our cooperation. We have signed the documents on interaction within the program of the AN-132 new transport and further promotion of the AN-148 special-purpose versions. We choose the AN-178 taking into account good characteristics of this aircraft. Its price and low operational costs are important advantages of this aircraft in comparison with other airplanes of this class. Besides, we will realize joint marketing policy on promotion of the AN-178 into the markets of other countries of Middle East. In the future we plan cooperative production of this aircraft».



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