Air Transport World

A Russian with a future.

On Oct. 17, a group of about 150 guests were present at the Irkutsk aircraft factory to see what was billed as the first flight of the new Beriev Be 200, a 64-seater or 6.5 tonne freighter that is a twinjet amphibious commercial airliner, a rarity. All went well.

The event was not quite as advertised. Traditionally, the prototype of any Russian aircraft was built by the design bureau's engineers and technicians under the watchful eye of the design team. Then, production drawings and tooling were transferred to a production factory, usually with little connection to the designers other than a small team to supervise production and to solve problems.

This time, to cut costs in a strained economy, Beriev's general designer, Gennadi Panatov, had the prototype built at the production factory in Irkutsk, almost 2,000 mi. …

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