The Russian government and the Ilyushin aircraft design firm are looking into relaunching production of the Il-114 passenger plane, as Russia moves to shield itself from the threat of Western sanctions to the fleets of Boeings and Airbuses flown by its airlines, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Twitter Tuesday.
"At a meeting of the government we again returned to the question of the Il-114 turboprop aircraft," Rogozin said in a tweet, adding that "The Ilyushin Design Bureau is ready to take on the job."
Western sanctions against Russian low-coster Dobrolyot grounded the airline in August by nixing its leasing agreements with an Irish company for Boeing 737 aircraft. Ninety percent of the planes flown by Russia airlines are build in and leased from Europe and the U.S.. The government hopes to boost domestic plane production to reduce this dependence.
In August, President Vladimir Putin identified the Il-114 — a small, regional turboprop driven aircraft that has been out of production for almost two years — as the preferred option for near-term domestic aircraft production. It can seat about 70-78 passengers, and is best suited for short-range routes.
Later on Tuesday, Rogozin said on Twitter that the Industry Ministry will present to the government a plan to reboot production of the aircraft. The plan, he said, will involve a complete makeover of the aircraft's design and "a profound modernization."
Any attempt to reboot the Il-114's production is likely to run into snags, as the plane was never produced in Russia. Instead, all 20 models of the plane that were built since 1990 were made by the Tashkent Aircraft Production Plant in Uzbekistan.