Improved Ilyushin Il-96 airliner to fly in 2019

The new Il-96-400M variant will be 9.65 m longer than the existing Il-96-300 passenger aircraft. Il-96-400 airframes are now used for various missions, including this airborne command post Il-96-400VPU (Photo by Alex Snow // Wikipedia)

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation signed a contract with its subsidiary Ilyushin Aviation Complex for the development of a new version of Ilyushin Il-96-400 wide-body passenger airliner. The program is dubbed Il-96-400M. The first flight of the new aircraft is scheduled for 2019.

Il-96-400M is the passenger version of the Il-96-400T cargo aircraft. Its fuselage is 9.65 m longer than the existing Il-96-300 passenger variant. The planned seating capacity is 390 passengers.

The aircraft will reportedly inherit four PS-90A-1 engines, which are currently installed on Il-96-400T. Its maximum thrust of 16 tons exceeds the older PS-90A version, which powers Il-96-300, by 1.4 tons.

There were earlier talks that a new engine, based on the PD-14 powerplant designed for MC-21 airliner, would be developed specifically for the program.

Serial production of Il-96-400M will be arranged at the facilities of Voronezh Aircraft Production Association (VASO), which now assembles other Il-96 modifications.

Last summer VASO’s general director Dmitriy Prishvin said that the first five aircraft to be assembled in between 2020 and 2023 are intended for GTLK State Transport Leasing Corporation. These aircraft are supposed to be leased to local carriers that operate long haul routes between Moscow and Russia’s Far Eastern destinations, Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.

Last fall, Vefomosti daily wrote that UAC was planning on building just six to eight Il-96-400M airframes. The Russian government plans to invest up to 50 billion rubles (about $860 million) into the program.

According to Izvestia daily, the program’s total cost stands at 53.4 billion rubles, with up to 9.9 billion rubles required for research and development, another 1.5 billion for modernization of VASO and component manufacturers, and the remaining 42 billion for topping GTLK’s capital.

UAC explained that Il-96-400M would be intermediate solution before the joint Russo-Chinese wide-body long-range airliner enter the service. “It is important to sustain our competences in this segment,” the company told Izvestia.

Up until now just four Il-96-400T aircraft have been assembled. They were intended for Russia’s Polet Airlines. After the carrier went out of business, two aircraft were converted into refuelers, one airframe – into a VVIP version for the Defense Ministry and another one – into an airborne command post.

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