Russia’s Polar Airlines has placed an order for 10 L-610 regional aircraft from the Ural Works of Civil Aviation (UWCA), the company said Sept. 2. The aircraft is scheduled to be delivered from 2023-2025.

The carrier plans to replace its Antonov An-24 and An-26 fleet with the L-610s.

The L-610 was developed in the mid-1980s by Czech manufacturer Let Kunovice, which is now known under the Aircraft Industries brand. The aircraft was intended to be a 40-seat version of the regional L-410, which could carry 19 passengers. The project was closed in the 1990s.

In 2016, the Russian government announced it was ready to invest in assembling the Let L-410 in the Ural region at the UWCA facilities near Yekaterinburg. “The L-610 was launched in 2019; it is a joint Russian-Czech project,” UWCA general director Vadim Badekha said. Serial production will start in 2023.

“The aircraft will meet all the requirements of the country’s regional aviation. It will allow [for the] increase [in] transport accessibility in the remote areas with severe weather conditions of the Arctic zone. The aircraft characteristics will be on par with Antonov planes, but it will also implement the latest industry achievements,” Badekha added.

“Replacing the An-24 and An-26 with the L-610 is a priority project for the carrier. We are working together with UWCA on the aircraft design specifications, which will allow it to operate in low temperatures on unpaved runways,” Polar Airlines general director Semyon Vinokurov said. He added the carrier already has significant experience in L-410 operations.

Polar Airlines is based in Yakutia, which is the biggest region of Russia with one of the lowest population densities. The region is also known for its extreme and severe climate with the lowest temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere.

Polar Airlines, which does not disclose its statistics, connects around 100 inhabitant localities in Yakutia. Its fleet includes various modifications of the An-24 and An-26, as well as the L-410, An-2, An-3T, Pilatus PC-6 and Tundra DA-40NG aircraft.

The carrier also signed a letter of intent for three Ilyushin Il-114 aircraft at the MAKS Air Show 2019 at the end of August.

Polina Montag-Girmes