07 November 2014

Regional Airliner Renaissance

07 November 2014


RAI R80 regional aircraft (photo : Defense Studies)

Regio-Aviasi Industri (Hall D, Stand DP007) has completed preliminary design work on the R80 twin-turboprop regional airliner. With the R80, RAI hopes to take on the Bombardier Dash 8 and ATR72 in the regional market, promising a cheaper aircraft but also one with state-of-the- art systems that provide attractive operating economics, and which comply with future air navigation requirements.

The R80 represents a rebirth of the IPTN N250 project of the 1990s. Two prototypes were flown, the first in August 1995, but the project was halted in 1997 amid the Asian financial crisis. In revisiting the programme, the aircraft is being thoroughly reworked and redesigned with modern systems, as well as being lengthened. About 60 per cent of the N250 central structure is reused.

Two engines have been earmarked for the R80 – Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW150A and the Rolls-Royce (Allison) AE2100 – although final selection has not been made. The aircraft will have a fly-by-wire flight control system, and its modern cockpit will feature large touchscreen displays. Initially it will have a traditional control yoke to satisfy the requirements of some customers, but in the future a sidestick controller will be available.

RAI has designed the R80 to address the 80/90-passenger market, with 2+2 seating in the main cabin for a maximum of 92 seats. The aircraft has two cargo compartments, one forward between the flight deck and main cabin, and one aft of the rear cabin lavatory area. Cargo doors are on the starboard side, along with two service doors, with two passenger entry doors on the port side. The door arrangement expedites loading and unloading, leading to the rapid turn-round times that are typically required in the short-sector regional market.

Detailed design has begun, conducted in a paperless environment using 3DExperience software from Dassault Systèmes. First metal-cutting is scheduled for the end of next year, and the first of two flying prototypes is due to take to the air in 2017. Two more airframes will be completed for ground testing. Strategic partner PT Dirgantara Indonesia will build the R80 at its Bandung factory.

RAI aims to begin deliveries of the R80 in 2019, after Indonesian certification. The company already has 145 orders, comprising 100 from NAM Air, 25 from Kalimantan-based Kal Star and 20 from Trigana Air, which operates in Papua.

While the initial focus is on satisfying the large domestic market, RAI is also looking for global export sales and is aiming for EASA/ FAA approval.

(Jane's)

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