United Aircraft Corporation’s Transport Aircraft division has mated fuselage and outer wing sections of the first Ilyushin Il-96-400M widebody quad jetliner, the company reported on January 10. The press statement comes with photos depicting the airframe in the final assembly shop of VASO plant in Voronezh, Russia. It further indicates that VASO has moved into the next development phase, which includes installation of avionics, other onboard systems, and the interior.
“Work on the new Il-96-400M jetliner proceeds on schedule,” said Ilyushin general director Yuri Grudinin, also head of UAC’s Transport Aviation division. “The first operable example shall be complete by the year-end. Following completion of ground trials, it will be submitted to fight testing. The first flight is planned for 2021.” The Il-96-400M follows the Il-96-400T, both featuring a fuselage stretch of 9.65 meters of the tube used in the original Il-96-300. Since the new version is a derivative of the baseline aircraft, developers plan for complimentary type certification.
UAC further reported that the Ilyushin design house completed the development of four interior options, work on which it performed with help of a fuselage mockup featuring a full-scale cross-section. The Il-96-400M will seat 305 passengers in a three-class layout or 350 in a dual-class configuration. The third option targets charter airlines with 402 seats in an all-economy layout.
UAC stresses that the Il-96-400M will use only locally designed and manufactured components, including “modern avionics and radio navigation systems that meet all current and upcoming local and international requirements.”
Although engine developer Aviadvigatel offered the more technologically advanced PS-90A3(M), a derivative of the PS-90A2 certified in 2010, Ilyushin rejected it in favor of PS90A1 turbofans already in service on the Il-96-400T freighter. Later, the Il-96-400M will use a pair of 77,160-pound-thrust PD-35 turbofan under development for the Sino-Russian CRAIC CR929. Plans call for the Il-96’s twin-engine derivative to fly in 2025 and acquire certification two years later. Specifications show a gross weight of 270 tonnes (595,240 pounds) to transport a 41-tonne payload over 5,134 nautical miles.
According to non-classified documents available on the Russian state defense orders, the Kremlin has set aside a budget of 10 billion rubles ($163 million) for the construction of the first Il-96-400M, including 7.6 billion rubles for the airframe and onboard systems.
Apart from government customers, including the presidential air detachment and defense ministry, the GTLK (Russian acronym for State Transport Lease Corporation) indicated its intent to procure five of the quads by 2023 for subsequent placement with airlines providing scheduled passenger services from Moscow to Vladivostok and Khabarovsk. GTLK has indicated it might eventually take six to eight Il-96-400Ms.
Last year, UAC president Yuri Slyusar told a Russian corporate newspaper that in the coming years VASO will assemble up to three Il-96 series aircraft annually. The first Il-96-400M under assembly for test purposes will precede six deliverable airframes set for completion from 2021 to 2024, he added.