An Ilyushin IL-96-400T cargo widebody aircraft, which has undergone the airworthiness restoration procedure, has entered revenue service started commercial operation at resurrected Sky Gates Airlines, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the beneficiary of both the cargo airline and manufacturer of the aircraft, said.
On Dec. 10, the IL-96-400T (RA-96103) made its first commercial flight carrying a general cargo from Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan, to Zhukovsky Airport near Moscow, the carrier’s base.
Red Wings Airlines (owned by UAC) acquired Sky Gates Airlines in August this year. Sky Gates, former Boeing 747Fs operator, was one of initial victims of 2022 Western sanctions against Russia, halting flights within days of the start of Russia-Ukraine military conflict.
Originally, two restored Il-96-400Ts were intended to private cargo specialist AirBridgeCargo (Volga-Dnepr Group) – RA-96103 was even repainted in its livery, but ended up going to the state-owned company.
The aircraft was built in 2009 at the Voronezh Aircraft Building Company (VASO). In preparation for the Il-96-400T airworthiness certificate issued in September 2023, the leasing company – Ilyushin Finance Co. conducted a set of measures to return the aircraft to service; VASO carried out work that included taking the aircraft out of long-term storage, heavy maintenance, and fulfillment of all current service bulletins.
The IL-96-400T is a 9.35 m longer version of the IL-96-300 base aircraft; it is powered with four PS-90A1 engines. The maximum commercial load is 92 tons. The range at maximum load is 5,000 km; with a 40-ton load, the aircraft can fly 12,000 km, according to UAC.
The Sky Gates fleet is currently comprises two airplanes – IL-76TD and IL-96-400T. In the future, the airline plans to increase its fleet with Russian-made airplanes.
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