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silk way signs antonovKIEV: Silk Way Airlines has signed a contract to purchase 10 Antonov AN-178 freighters. The Azerbaijan-based airline is the first carrier to acquire the aircraft after its maiden flight earlier this month. Price and delivery terms were not disclosed.

The AN 178 has a maximum payload of 18 tons and can carry 10 tons over 4,000 kms. It is a cargo derivative of the AN-148 regional jet.

Zaur Akhundov, president of Silk Way (right of picture) signed the agreement with Dmitriy Kiva, Antonov president and chief designer. Akhundov commented: "This aircraft is universal. It is very attractive by technical characteristics. It is a very good replacement of the AN−12. We will actively use the AN−178 for cargoes transportation".

Antonov has also announced a deal with Beijing-based A−Star Science & Technology Company to buy two aircraft and subsequently produce the aircraft in China.

Wang Hongliang, director general of the Chinese company noted: "We think that the AN−178 is a very good aircraft and it has big perspectives at the Chinese market. We are going to purchase two aircraft, and then to organize production of the AN−178 in China," he added.

In a related move, Antonov says it is to partner with Saudi Arabia's Taqnia Aeronautics and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology to develop and manufacture the AN-132, an updated version of its AN-32 turboprop aircraft that has a payload of 7.5 tons.

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