More than ten years after the project was abandoned, Polar Airlines and the Ural Civil Aviation Plant have brought the L-610 back into production with an order for ten of the regional carrier aircraft. They are due to be delivered between 2023 and 2025.
The development of the 40-seater L-610 began in 1985 at Let Kunovice Aircraft Industries in former Czechoslovakia. At the time the company wanted to develop a bigger successor to the L-410 which was comparable to the Canadian Twin Otter in terms of capacity and size.
But following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Let tried to adapt to the new commercial challenges by adding Western avionics to the L-610 and completed eight prototypes the first of which flew on 18 December, 1992. But a lack of funding eventually saw the entire programme abandoned in 2006.
Two years later, 51% of Let’s shares were acquired by the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company, with the intention of developing new aircraft for Russia’s regional market. In 2018, Deputy Minister Oleg Bocharov announced the decision of obtaining the plans for the L-610 in order to continue its development.
Type certification for the new, improved model is expected in 2023, with full-scale production to follow the following month.
Ten new L-610s were ordered at MAKS 2019 and will replace the An-24 and An-26 within Russian Polar Airlines’ fleet, according to Semen Vinokurov, director general of the airline.
(Image – Steve Ryle)