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Ilyushin Il-18 Coot

In the Design Bureau of S.V. Ilyushin, newly designed aircraft were often assigned numbers of previously created aircraft designs that were not built in series production. And in this case, almost ten years later, the experience of the creation, construction and testing of first IL-18 aircraft with piston engines had some impact on the design of the second IL-18 turboprop aircraft. Although it retained the name of its predecessor, the widely known second IL-18 was essentially newly made passenger plane at a much higher technical level, unrelated to the first one.

The Ilyushin Il-18 is a large turboprop airliner resembling the Lockheed Electra and the Vickers Vanguard. As one of the best known Russian aircraft, it is also one of the most popular and long lasting. The Ilyushin Il-18 is a four-engine medium-range transport aircraft for up to 5 crew and up to 110 passengers [Il-18D]. Ilyushin's Il-18 turboprop airliner played a significant role in developing the USSR's air services in the 1960s and 1970s, and has also been adopted for a variety of military roles, ranging from transport, to command post, Elint and maritime patrol.

The Il-18 was originally developed against a mid-1950s Aeroflot requirement for an economical 75 to 100 seat airliner. It was planned to join the fleet of Aeroflot Antonov An-10s that served both as domestic and international airliners. Initially, a variant of the Il-16 passenger aircraft with a swept wing and plumage and equipped with four AM-11 turbojet engines installed in the root of the wing was developed. The design bureau has already begun the development of working drawings, conducted an extensive complex of aerodynamic studies, but then all the work was minimized and the topic was closed. The reason was the Tu-104 passenger plane, which in 1955 began flight tests.

The issue of creating civilian aircraft for Aeroflot airlines was discussed at government meetings with the participation of chief designers, at first it was decided to create a multi-purpose aircraft, used as a passenger and as a transport. S.V. Ilyushin defended the idea of a specialized passenger aircraft with its inherent classical scheme, which allows creating a highly efficient aircraft, believing that the flight characteristics of a multi-purpose aircraft will be worse. This idea was recognized as correct, and OKB S.V. Ilyushin began to create such an aircraft on the basis of a decree of the Government of the USSR of May 25, 1956.

The construction of the first prototype aircraft began in September 1956 and was completed in less than a year. In June 1957, the aircraft was demonstrated by N.S. Khrushchev, and on the proposal of EA Furtseva machine was called "Moscow". The Il-18 Moskva (Moscow) was flown for the first time on July 4th 1957, powered by four Kuznetsov NK-4 engines. Four other prototypes and an unprecedented 20 pre-production aircraft followed, some powered by Ivchenko AI-20 engines. The AI-20 proved superior and powered the first production model.

A series of route proving flights established the type's reliabilty and testing was completed in Marcb 1958. Production began in 1957 and carried on until 1968. The Il-18 entered airline service with Aeroflot in 1959, when a 75-seat Il-18 entered service on April 20th 1959 on a domestic Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Adler. The first international service was flown to London in October 1959.

One of the best planes ever built in the Soviet Union was the Ilyushin IL-18. It provided excellent performance - combining speed with range and reliability. In 1960, the Hungarian Malev was the first airline of the time's Communist countries to introduce the IL-18 to its fleet. The IL-18's success story, in fact, began with the original of this model, carrying the registration HA-MOA. Today, the plane is exhibited in the open-air museum near Budapest's airport Ferihegy. The Polish airline Lot also had a number of these bestsellers in its fleet.

Further developments of the model resulted in a number of improvements and growing capacity. The early services were flown by IL-18s and IL18Bs, which had a longer range and room for 84 passengers, but problems with the engines led to a series of crashes and a redesign, into the IL-18V, from 1961. The V model had seating for 111 passengers and was distinguished by smoother nose contours. This configuration for 111 people had an interior that took account of Russia's harsh winters with ample space set aside, in line with the props, to store passengers winter coats. In later versions these fittings could be removed and extra seats added.

Next came the long-range IL-18I, with extra fuel tanks in the wings and an increased payload enabling 125 passengers to be carried. The I did not go into production but design features were incorporated into the IL18D, which entered service in 1966. In the mid 1960's, the Il-18's engines were again upgraded and the seating capacity was again increased, this time to 122. This last civil production version, the Il-18D built from 1965-69, was utilised with the 4250 hp AE-20K engine could carry 110 or max 122 passengers. The final civil model was the IL-18E, or IL-18Ye, which mated the fuselage of the IL-18D to the lower capacity wings of the IL18V.

When production ended in 1969, over 600 [many sources range as high as 800] Il-18 airliners of all versions were built - mainly for USSR and Soviet client state airlines - in the GAZ-30 Znamya Truda (Banner of Labor) plant at Khodinka in Moscow in the former USSR. By the mid 1970's, almost all Il-18s had been removed from regular civil and military use and were converted into Il-38 May patrol aircraft and Il-20 Coot-A electronic intelligence aircraft. Only a small fleet of original Il-18s still fly today in their original roles. The turboprop-powered ll-18s have largely been retired from Aeroflot use and replaced by turbofan-powered airliners. Today the type has all but disappeared from passenger service but lives on in Russia and the United Arab Emirates as a freighter.

Despite some initial difficulties, this Soviet equivalent of the Lockheed Electra eventually proved to be extremely successful, offering high comfort and good operating economics, for its day. The IL-18 was supplied to many 'friendly nations' in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Its uses included passenger and cargo carriage, VIP transportation, support of Soviet research stations in Antarctica, electronic espionage and various research and development programs, both civil and military. A smaller number delivered for military service as VIP and general transports. Given the NATO reporting name 'Coot', a small number remained in military service at the end of the 20th Century.

The IL-18 did not require a long runway. And this was especially appreciated in the conditions of the far north, for example, in the same Yakutia. One and a half to two kilometers are enough to take off. This quality was highly appreciated by the military. Secondly, it is a comfortable plane. IL-18 was the first real passenger airliner of the USSR, built not on the basis of a military bomber. And thirdly, it is a reliable aircraft. Until the mid-1970s, the IL-18 remained the main long- and medium-haul airliner of the Soviet Union. Was in the fleets of airlines in Poland and East Germany. Then it was replaced by the jet IL-62 and Tu-154. And the IL-18 began to be used on individual flights.

The clouds over the IL-18 began to gather in the 1990s. Old planes, due to their unpretentiousness, were operated in the most adverse weather conditions. As a result, on August 14, 1991, the Romanian Il-18B of Tarom crashed into a mountain near the city of Timisoara. Killed 9 people. A year later, also during the approach, the Cuban airliner of the Soviet aircraft industry crashed. On board were 34 people. And on October 25, 2000, the crash of the Il-18 of the Russian Air Force claimed the lives of 84 Russian troops. The plane followed from the Chkalovsky airfield in Batumi, but in low cloud conditions it deviated from the course and crashed into Mtirala Mountain.

After the plane crash near Kalyazin in 2001, the Ministry of Transport banned civil transportation on the Il-18. Then 27 people were killed. Charter IL-18 left at the peak due to a technical malfunction of the steering wheel. But in most cases, the planes crashed while landing in severe weather conditions. This is the most common cause of air crashes.

On paper, Phoenix Aviation has its headquarters in Kyrgyzstan, but its operational seat is Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. The airline operates up to ten Ilyushin IL-18s for its passenger, cargo, and combined flights. To the joy of many aircraft fans, Cuban airlines often have to rely on Soviet "vintage planes" for financial reasons. That also goes for Aerocaribbean, founded in 1982. Although it can boast three modern ATR turboprops of its own, its Ilyushin IL-18s remain the flagships.

In civil aviation, the last Il-18 was decommissioned in 2002 after a plane crash near Kalyazin. But from the commissions decision, it was clear that the private airlines aircraft was in disrepair. Over the entire history, more than 800 Il-18 aircraft were manufactured. For comparison: Tu-104 - only 201. Of the passenger aircraft in the USSR, only the Tu-134 and Tu-154 airliners were built. IL-18 flew in Africa and Antarctica, was used for fish reconnaissance and meteorological research. Transported general secretaries and statesmen. And in 1961, after a historic flight into space, Yuri Gagarin arrived in Moscow on it.




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