Home' Asian Aviation : AAV May 2010 Contents 40 AsianAviation | MAY 2010
For the past 60 years, the Beriev Aviation
Company has been the leading
manufacturer of amphibious aircraft
and seaplanes in Russia -- and arguably
the rest of the world as well. is lead
has been strengthened by the launch of
the Be-200 Altair, Russia's rst purpose-designed water
bomber and the largest production amphibian in the
Over the last several years, Beriev has sent its Be-200
around the world to ght res, with great success. Yet
despite considerable interest, orders have been slow to
materialise. is looks set to change now that the Altair
has received international certi cation.
e Be-200 owes a lot to Beriev's A-40 Albatros,
which was an anti-submarine warfare aircra developed
for the Soviet navy. It rst ew in 1986, but with the
impending collapse of communism Beriev correctly
realised there was little future in the aircra and in
1989 decided to begin work on a smaller variant for
mostly civil purposes. Aimed at the world market, the
new aircra 's main roles were to be re ghting, search
and rescue, maritime patrol, air ambulance and cargo
and passenger transport.
Since the Be-200 was Beriev's rst purpose-built
water bomber, the company consulted forest-fire
ghting agencies in the United States and Russia for
assistance and advice. Beriev also converted two Be-
12s into Russia's rst amphibious water bombers and
their successful trials in 1993 encouraged Beriev to
proceed with the Be-200, leading to the rollout of the
rst aircra on 11 September 1996 at Irkutsk.
e Be-200 prototype was due to y the next year,
but there was not enough money to buy the engines
until August 1997, so the amphibian only performed
its maiden ight, from land, on 24 September 1998.
Its 'o cial' rst ight took place on 17 October 1998.
During the course of testing, the Be-200 set numerous
world records for hydroplane aircra , once setting
ten records on a single day. As of September 2006,
the aircra held 42 records in the hydroplane class,
including those for speed, altitude, speed over distance
and altitude with payload.
Beta Air and EADS
To develop the aircra , Beriev set up the Beta Air
consortium in November 1991, comprising : Irkutsk
Aircraft Production Association, or IAPO, which
held 53.5 percent; Beriev Aviation Company with
20.5 percent; Ukrainian bank Prominvest with 15
percent; and ILTA Trade Finance SA of Switzerland,
which took 5 percent. e latter was put in charge of
providing most of the nance for the project. Since
then there have been numerous changes in the Russian
aviation industry. IAPO became a subsidiary of the
Irkut Corporation in 2002, which also incorporates
Beriev, Beta Air and Yakovlev.
Irkut in turn became part of the United Aircra
Corporation in 2006-7, together with Antonov,
Ilyushin, Mikoyan, Sukhoi, Tupolev and Yakovlev, as
part of the Russian government's drive to consolidate
and streamline the country's aviation industry.
In May 2002, EADS signed a joint marketing
agreement with IAPO regarding the Altair. In July
2003 EADS agreed, together with Rolls-Royce
Deutschland, to obtain Western certi cation of the
aircra and o er it to Western markets, possibly with
Rolls-Royce BR715 engines. However, interest in the
BR715-engined Be-200RR all but disappeared a er a
joint study in 2004 revealed that between 100 and 200
sales would be needed to break even, versus less than 70
for the D-436TP-powered Be-200. Consequently, the
Russian engines will achieve Western certi cation rst,
with the BR715 variant hovering in the background
-- the passenger Be-210 version may at some stage in
the far future be powered by the heavier Rolls-Royce
EADS further increased its involvement in the
programme by purchasing a 10 percent stake in Irkut in
August 2005 and creating a new company, EADS Irkut
Seaplane SAS. is will be responsible for international
marketing , sales and support of the Be-200, as well as
international certi cation.
In early March this year, EADS, with the help
of its affiliate Airbus, received European Aviation
Certi cation for the re ghting variant of the Altair.
Certi cation was originally scheduled for December
2009, but delayed partly by the fact that the European
Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had never before
certi ed an aircra in the Be-200's class. European
certi cation will give a tremendous boost to marketing
e orts outside Russia, since it is essential to Western
buyers like Portugal and Greece, which remain keen to
buy the amphibian.
Structurally, the Be-200 is essentially a scaled-down
version of Beriev's A-40 Albatross/A-42 Mermaid
amphibian and bears a strong family resemblance.
It shares many of the same aero - and hydrodynamic
characteristics, as well as construction features, to cut
down on costs and development time.
Beriev decided to power the Be-200 with two
ZMKB Progress D-436TP high-bypass turbofans. e
engines are corrosion-resistant maritime variants of the
proven D-436 family manufactured by Motor Sich.
Each engine generates 7,500 kg (16,550 lb) of thrust
at full power.
e engines are mounted above the fuselage, just
behind the wings, to avoid spray. e location of the
engines and their mounts means the Be-200 can accept
almost any jet or turboprop powerplant, such as the
Allison GMA-2100 turboprop. e aircra also uses
Beriev's Be-200 Altair makes waves
By gaining European certification, the Beriev Be-200 has boosted its chances of turning international interest
in the multi-role amphibian into firm orders, writes Guy Martin.
The Be-200 can fill its tanks with 12 tonnes of water in 14
seconds by skimming the sea in waves up to 1.2m high.
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