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Diamond Plans Small Passenger Plane

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Diamond Aircraft Industries is partnering with Russia's Rostec to develop a low-cost, 19-seat, diesel-powered, composite utility aircraft designed to service communities in vast reaches of the country that have no road or rail links. The aircraft will be designed to replace the ancient An-2 biplanes and L-410 turboprops that ply these obscure routes now. "An-2 and L-410 [aircraft] currently in service have low fuel efficiency and high operating costs," said Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov. "Creating a principally new aircraft will fulfill this niche and allow us to replace the obsolete fleet." Russia doesn't currently build any aircraft in that range and those built in other countries are updates of old designs, he said.

Diamond CEO Christian Dries said there is an initial market for at least 200 airframes but he said there is future potential in the Russian government's commitment to rebuild its crumbling aviation infrastructure in the outlying areas of the country and subsidize air service. "We anticipate Russia is a prospective market as it has considerable territories giving it great potential in domestic services development," he said. The diesel aircraft are expected to be 2.5 times more efficient than the current aircraft and the first one will be delivered in 2016. Meanwhile a couple of players in that market also had announcements at Paris. Canadian-based Viking Air announced Russian carrier Vityaz Avia ordered seven 19-seat Series 400 Twin Otters bringing its total order to 11 aircraft. And the Czech Republic's LET introduced a modernized version of the L-410, with new engines and avionics.

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