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Ilyushin Il-96 Camber - Program

IL-96, despite the resemblance to IL-86, in fact, represented a new project. The Il-96-300 differs from its predecessor IL-86 by 5.5 meters shorter fuselage, wing span and more reduced sweep angle, the increased size of the vertical stabilizer, improved interior passenger compartment. Its design employs new alloys and composite materials increased share. The plane has an automatic system to control fuel consumption. Particular attention was paid to the reliability and safety of operation of the airplane.

The fuselage substantially modified to improve its reliability, safety in case of damage, reduce the rate of growth of cracks, providing a fixed resource, reduce weight and improve the quality of the outer surface. The horizontal tail of the IL-96 is the same as that of IL-86, but the area of the vertical stabilizer was increased by increasing its height by two meters. The need to increase the area of the vertical tail was due to the requirement for improved directional stability in the event of failure of one engine.

The IL-96-300 wide-body airplane is designed to carry passengers, luggage and cargoes at long-haul routes. By the mid-1970s, almost all long-haul air travel in the USSR and the socialist countries were carried out on the Il-62. However, the capabilities of these aircraft could not respond to the full extent of the rapid growth of the volume of long-distance transport: due to the relatively small number of passenger flights increased, respectively, growing burden on airports.

During the first half of the 1970s, concurrently with the development of the IL-86, the Experimental Design Bureau n/a S.V. Ilyushin began the project-research work on a wide-body long-range passenger airliner. It was started in 1978 when Ilyushin design bureau directed by Genrikh Novozhilov began projecting new high-capacity aircraft with four turbojet engines able to cover long distances. The IL-96 was designed under the leadership of S.V. Ilyushin as a result of Ilyushin Design Bureau research to create a successor to the IL-86 long-range jetliner.

In 1978, using the results of the project Il-86D, the Design Bureau started to develop IL-96 with a T-tail, high aspect ratio wing with supercritical profiles and an area of 387 sq.m. At the very beginning, the designers intended to modify the IL-86 in order to achieve the target. Studies of this variant were made until 1983. Designers facedconstantly growing needs for reduction of the passenger-kilometer operational cost, increase of payload and passenger capacity with simultaneous increase of the flight range and reduced fuel consumption. Progress in aviation science and technology allowed the designers to abandon the idea of a IL-96 with its many pre-construction units and systems of the IL-86 and proceed to create a fundamentally new airplane - the IL-96-300.

Passenger accommodations in the initial version were for 300 in an all-economy configuration, and so it was designated the "Il-96-300" -- which is why there is no Il-96-100 or Il-96-200. According to some sources, this plane was the first Russian passenger plane not to receive a NATO reporting name. Other sources are of the view that it was regarded as a variant of the Il-86 Camber, and so the Il-96 would also be Camber.

Compared with the Il-86, it is an entirely new design, even if the two resemble each other from the outside. It was to compete with the family of the Airbus A330/Airbus A340 on the Russian market and to replace aging Il-62 of Aeroflot and of the companies which succeeded to following the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as IL-62 of Cubana and CAAC. The plane particularly resembles the A340 airbus. The IL-96-300 airplane aerodynamic configuration, assemblies and systems contain the newest engineering solutions ensuring a high level of the airplane safety and operational economy during its operation. In recompense for the IL-96-300 airplane development and its launch into regular service a large group of employees in the Open Joint Stock Company «IL» was awarded Government Prize of the Russian Federation.

Fast air transport development and increasing volume of long-courrier passenger traffic required a substitution for IL-62 aircraft. The first Soviet turbojet intercontinental passenger airplane that had remained the Aeroflot fleet leader for a long time was developed by Ilyushin design bureau as far back as in early sixties. The need was for a new aircraft able to carry a bigger number of passengers relieving airport traffic, more comfortable and more cost-efficient.

There is a story that Petr Dementiev, minister of aviation industry and Boris Bugaev, minister of civil aviation drew the technical task of the new aircraft for Genrikh Novozhilov on a napkin, because they didn’t have any writing paper at hand during one of the joint flights.

In the beginning this kind of liner was supposed to be an upgraded version of IL-86 aircraft and to retain similar construction. That would have allowed to economize state resources, to reduce new aircraft release terms, to start up serial production rapidly. This is why the new project was designated IL-86D (long-distance). The working process made clear the need to develop absolutely new fundamental and design solutions aimed at increasing the aircraft aerodynamic qualities, reducing its weight, providing economy and ease of maintenance and operation. It was required to create almost a completely new aircraft.

The Il-96-300 became a new flag-aircraft in the Soviet civil air fleet. The first IL-96-300 test aircraft was built at the Ilyushin Design Bureau's experimental production in cooperation with the Voronezh Aircraft Plant (VASO). In 1986-1987 began construction of realization of three prototypes intended for in-flight tests and two prototypes for statics and dynamic test.

On 28 September 1988 the first Soviet wide-body long-range IL-96-300 aircraft took off from Frunze Central airdrome at Khodynskoye field. The test pilot S.G.Bliznuk flew the airplane. The liner was aviated by the crew commanded by honored test pilot of the Soviet Union Stanislav Bliznyuk. After landing, the pilots were met with applause. Many years of work for development of a new Russian aircraft ended in success. This was followed by the second prototype in November 1989.

In the process of testing IL-96-300 carried out a number of unique distance flights up to 14,840 km. It has been tested in Yakutsk at -50°C and in Tashkent at +40°C. As the outcome of these tests, the Interstate Aviation Committee Aviation Register (AR IAC) issued an Interstate Airworthiness Certificate No. 22-96-300 to IL-96-300 aircraft for passenger transportation on December 29, 1992. On that date, nine planes had been assembled within the framework of the test program. Thus, IL-96-300 serial production began in 1992 and passenger operations started in July 1993. But the economic situation of those years made broad operation of the new aircraft impossible.

During the development of the IL-96-300 the designers worked out entirely new project design decisions aimed at improving of the airplane aerodynamic perfection, the decreasing its weight and the achieving its operational and maintenance simplicity. In recompense for the Il-96-300 aircraft development and its launch into regular service a large group of JSC "IL" employees was awarded Government Prize of the Russian Federation. Technical solutions protected by 14 Russian and 29 foreign patents as well as by 167 copyright certificates were used in the Il-96-300 project.

PS-90 engines state testing was finished in 1992. Next year, IL-96-300 aircraft received the IAC certificate. From 1993, IL-96-300 liners were operated by Aeroflot. Some of them are named after famous Soviet and Russian pilots, designers, scientists: Valery Chkalov, Vladimir Kokkinaki, Valery Menitsky, Stanislav Blisnyuk and others.

In April 1997, the first mass-produced IL-96T airlifter was rolled from the gates of the Voronezh Aircraft Plant (VASO). Unfortunately, because of certain circumstances, the first aircraft of this type to have been built was not a passenger airliner for 380 to 400 seats, but the cargo version. Throughout the years, a large amount of hard work was done together with the CIS IAC for certification of these aircraft with the Register of the USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In 1999, the IL-96T received, for the first time in the aviation history of Russia, FAA Type Certificates.

Over the years, interest in purchasing Russian-made long-haul aircraft was shown by Venezuela, Peru, China and several countries in the Middle East. Some countries even signed the relevant agreements, but the Il-96 took off only in the Caribbean, including one Russian aircraft which was delivered to Cuba as a presidential plane. Now the airline Cubana de Aviación operates five of these planes, and its passengers highly appreciate flying on airplanes of this type.

At one point the end of the production seemed in sight and even imminent, because Cubana is the only non-Russian company to order this aircraft. As of 2008 a total of 20 aircraft are built and all of them are flying: three (among them are main and reserve RF President Airlines Il-96-300PU) in State Transportation Company "Russia", six in Aeroflot, two in Krasnoyarsk Airlines (KrasAir), one in DAL (was given for lease to Cuban air company Cubana de Aviacion), three in Domodedovo Airlines and one (cargo version) in Atlant-Soyuz.

Special air squadron of the Department for Presidential Affairs of the Russian Federation received a new Il-96-300PU with engine PS-90 developed by Aviadvigatel in February 2014. This is the fourth plane of this type in the presidential fleet. All liners are equipped such engines. The first Il-96-300PU was made for President of Russia Boris Yeltsin and put into operation in 1995. The second took off in April 2003, the third, in August 2012. All liners have engines PS-90A developed by Perm design bureau Aviadvigatel. The government squadron has been since its establishment operating aircraft equipped with Perm engines. Today, the special air squadron “Russia” is leading by the number of jets with Perm engines. The accumulated operating time of engines of PS-90A family exploited by the special squadron amounted to approximately 130 thousand hours by the beginning of January 2014.

The Il-96 was partially "saved" by the Ministry of Defense, which in 2013 ordered the construction of aircraft-tankers based on the cargo version of the Il-96-400. In early 2014, the presidential office said it had ordered another two Il-96-300s from the Voronezh Aircraft Plant, to be delivered by the end of 2015. In 2014 it was reported that Voronezh Aircraft Production Association agreed on the construction plan of 14 Il-96 liners, 11 of which would be transferred to the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. The first plane will be built for the Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu and was transferred to the customer in 2015. The part bought the Ministry of Defense can be converted to Il-96 in air refuellers.

On November 17, 2015 Alexander Korolkov, special to RBTH, reported that Russian aircraft giant Ilyushin had announced plans to restart production of its Il-96 airliner amid fears of possible US sanctions against the Russian air industry. Manufacture of the four-engine giants was suspended in 2009 only by the military and the government, could see a return to civilian use.

A year earlier, the resumption of mass production of Russian long-haul aircraft was out of the question; on the contrary, Aeroflot was removing the Il-96 from its fleet. In all, the airline had six Il-96-300s, which had been used since 1995. The air carrier attributed the decision to the aging planes and their low economic efficiency. The aircraft were to be replaced by the American Boeing 747 – the very plane that the Il-96-300 was originally created to compete with in the post-Soviet era.

In light of the political tensions between Russia and the U.S. and the ongoing economic sanctions against Moscow over its role in the Ukraine conflict, the current dependence of the Russian air industry on Boeing and Airbus is seen as a potential weakness.

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