The Antonov state enterprise (Kiev) is preparing to complete the assembling of the first prototype of the new An-178 transport aircraft with a carrying capacity of up to 18 tons by the end of 2014, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reports.

A ceremony marking the completion of the fuselage of the new aircraft’s prototype took place at the enterprise’s facilities on Tuesday.

According to the Antonov state enterprise’s president and principal designer Dmytro Kiva, the new aircraft will make its maiden flight and begin a flight test program in early 2015.

All the stages of the An-178 program - from design to assembly - are being implemented based on modern digital technologies. According to Kiva, two versions of the new plane are being created: a commercial version and a military transport version. The enterprise is financing the program with its own funds.

"Potential customers on the domestic market as well as in third countries are already waiting for the new aircraft," said Kiva.

The An-178 is intended to replace the An-12 aircraft on the market.

The Antonov state enterprise is the leading developer and manufacturer of aircraft in Ukraine and a recognized world leader in in the manufacture of transport aircraft for a wide of uses. In almost 70 years since its establishment, the company has created more than 100 types and modifications of aircraft, including the heavy transport aircraft An-124-100 Ruslan and An-225 Mriya. According to the Antonov state enterprise’s management, its order portfolio in recent years is worth more than USD 1 billion