30 December 2014
One year before (in 1971) the submission of AN-72 specifications, a new D-36 engine with a max. thrust of 6,500 kgf had been produced in Ukraine. However, the official date of its release coincides with that of the first AN-72: 31 August 1977. The engine became the heart of the entire АN-72 and АN-74 family; it was recognised as having extraordinary technical specifications and successful history of use. Yak-42 and Be-200 were equipped with modifications of D-36. The motor family became the foundation for the development of another D-436 engine (used in TU-334, AN-148, AN-158 and AN-178, as well as Be-200). Customers can get D-36 equipped with FADEC (Full authority digital engine control) system. Thus the process of modernisation of AN-74 cockpit by replacing analogous equipment with a digital one becomes a real and practical task. D-36 has a Ukrainian national certificate, as well as an international certificate from the Aviation Registry of the Interstate Aviation Committee.
New markets in exchange for new engines?
Looking for a new path
Engine Instrumentation Display System is an inalienable part of the Electronic flight instrument system (EFIS). The modernisation of AN-74 cockpit and replacement of analogous equipment to digital is possible with Honeywell (US) Primus Epic. The adaptation of Engine Instrumentation Display System to D-36 with FADEC system could be
done in a relatively short time and small financial expenses. In case if there is going to be other engines, the costs for engineering and design works and the certification could reach 10m USD. The whole work may take approximately 1.5 years.
It has been said that the American aviation market will be open to those airplanes that have American engines onboard. Naturally, this does not always happen, although there was a theoretical opportunity to secure major contract to deliver more than 100 AN-72 airplanes for the Pentagon in 2006. The first phase included 33 airplanes to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force. Boeing was part of this project under the FCA (Future Cargo Aircraft) program. One of the major conditions to implement the contract was the adaptation of U.S. engines and avionics.
The United States government required this in order to invest in domestic producers, as well as due to the military regulations. However, the preliminary agreement failed to develop into a fully-fledged production contract. CF34-8E (produced in 2002 by General Electric (US), max. thrust 6500 kgf) or RB.183.Tay.650-15 (produced in 1984, Rolls Royce (UK) max. thrust 6849 kgf) – both with FADEC installed – could be used on AN-74 as a propulsion point. SaM-146 (SNECMA (France) and "Saturn" (Russia) are potential solutions for enlarged and other modified versions of AN-74, however, this engine is much heavier than D-36 (+584 kg in each of them) and is excessively powerful. Using SaM-146 is therefore unlikely and commercially unattractive. The installation of alternative engines for AN-74 is technically unjustified and could be implemented only if there is a major customer who aims to support a domestic producer.