Tupolev's new plane, the Tu-324, hopes to become the standard plane used in Russia's regions. It thus shapes up as competition for Sukhim and Boeing's jointly produced RRJ. Nazir Kireyev, an adviser to the government of Tartarstan on questions of military aviation production and machine building, discussed the situation during a press briefing at MAKS-2003, the international air show underway outside Moscow. 'New planes are now being designed specifically for regional use. Those are just the kind of planes that Russia needs,' he emphasized.
Sixty orders have already been placed for the Tu-324, 'a remarkable thing,' Kireyev said, in view of the fact that the plane has yet to be tested. Most of the orders, he said, are from regional airlines and include an order for seven planes from Pulkovo Airline. The Federal Leasing Co. has expressed interest in becoming a partner on the Tu-324. The market price of the Tu-324 will be 40% less than prices for comparable foreign-made planes. The price is expected to be in the range of USD 10-12 million.
Plans call for flight testing and certification of the Tu-324 in 2005-2006. Five planes are to be built for testing, Kireyev said. The related Tu-334 has already been flight-tested and is expected to be certified by the end of 2003. The Tu-324 family of planes includes: the Tu-324 (50 passengers), the Tu-414 (70 passengers), and the Tu-334 (102 passengers). In addition, there is a corporate version. The planes will be powered by Russia's new, more efficient AI-22 engine or a General Electric power plant.