Russia still doesn’t know if the series production of the widebody Il-96-400M is a right decision. According to sources from the TASS agency, the feasibility of putting the four-engine aircraft into production will only be taken after its certification.
The Il-96-400M is a higher-capacity variant of the Ilyushin jet, originally designed in the 1980s. It has a nine-meter-longer fuselage and a digitized flight system. With up to 370 seats, the four-engine is expected to offer a maximum range of just over 8,000 km.
The aircraft had ceased to be a priority in 2020, but economic sanctions from the West over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, made the Putin government reassess the decision.
Fearing that the commercial jet fleet supplied by Boeing and Airbus will cease to operate due to lack of components, UAC, the holding company that controls the main Russian aeronautical manufacturers, is investing in the recovery of the assembly line of obsolete aircraft such as the Tupolev Tu-214 and the Il-96.
“The first aircraft has been assembled and will be used as a flight laboratory to test technical solutions for wide-body and long-range aircraft. Modernized systems are being tested there, including a promising domestic complex of flight and navigation equipment. The engine is also Russian , the PS-90A. Before the end of the year, the first flight is planned. Based on the results of the certification tests, a decision will be made on series production”, said a TASS spokesperson.
UAC is already preparing to resume production of the smaller-capacity Il-96-300 at a rate of just two aircraft per year.
Russia is also a partner in the CR929 program, an advanced widebody, which is jointly developed with China in the CRAIC joint venture. However, the Russian government is already signaling that it will leave the project soon.