In relatively recent history there proved high demand for four-engined, wide-body passenger airliners leading the Russian-based (then Soviet Union) Ilyushin concern to develop its own market competitor in the "IL-96". The IL-96 was, itself, developed from the Soviet-era IL-86 (detailed elsewhere on this site) which went on to serve a limited list of Soviet-allied operators including Armenia, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union (and later the reborn Russia), Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. None remain in civilian market service today (2020) though the Russian Air Force relies on four examples (in its IL-86VKP guise) for the all-important "Airborne Command Post" (ACP) role.
The IL-96 emerged from the ashes of the fall of the Soviet Empire which occurred between 1989-1991. Intended as a long-ranged counterpart to the in-service, short-ranged IL-86, the IL-96 was in the works throughout what remained of the 1980s, resulting in a prototype completing a first-flight on September 28th, 1988. The launch customer for the series became Aeroflot in 1993 but, the long-range, wide-body market was already being dominated by Western types from American-based Boeing and French-based Airbus - limiting the IL-96 today to just 30 total examples and these solely serving Cuba and Russia (including high-level governmental VIP roles for the latter).
Within this limited fleet, the IL-96 has only been evolved into a handful of variants led by the initial production IL-96-300 models. These were outfitted with 4 x Aviadvigatel (Soloviev) PS-90A turbofan engines of 35,300lb thrust and came available with a two-class configuration scheme able to seat about 260 passengers and fly out to ranges of 6,000 nautical miles. The planned, modified IL-96-300V, with its proposed dual "Airstair" access, was never furthered.
The IL-96M was developed as a three-class, 300+ passenger variant with Western customers in mind. This included a Western-style cockpit as well as support for the American 4 x Pratt & Whitney PW2337 turbofan engine. To this was added a 30-foot section of fuselage for increased operational ranges but differences with Boeing and the United States made sure this mark did not see the light of day. Similarly, the proposed IL-96T dedicated freighter model was doomed for at least the interim until re-engined with the local Aviadvigatel PS-90A1 turbofan and now built atop the newer, more capable IL-96-400 passenger-hauling form.
The IL-96-400 was based in the IL-96M complete with PS-90A1 turbofan engines and developed with a two-class configuration in mind, seating between 300 to 400 passengers and flying out to ranges of 5,400 nautical miles. Cuba ended up purchasing three of these aircraft in early-2013 while a single example was taken on by the Russian Air Force for the ACP role to succeed the aging IL-86 fleet. A short-lived version, the IL-96-400VT, was thought to have been proposed to the USAF for its aerial tanker requirement but held little chance in being selected by the service.
The IL-96-400T became the IL-96-400's dedicated freighter form and the IL-96-400TZ was proposed as an aerial tanker in 2015 for the Russian Air Force. It is unknown whether this mark has gained any steam in own development.
The IL-96-400M has emerged as the latest proposed form and features a lengthened fuselage and all-modern cockpit. This model is intended for service in the 2020s and beyond and is set to become the new in-service standard for the series. Able to carry just under 400 passengers, the IL-96-400M was, at least at one point, being partially financed by the Russian government.
October 2019 - Work has begun on the new stretched fuselage version of the IL-96, the IL-96-400. The vehicle is expected to be completed by United Aircraft Corporation sometime in 2020 with a first-flight scheduled for sometime in 2021.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.