Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

The tragic story of Il-86

The tragic story of Il-86. 46247.jpegOn December 22, 1976 the Il-86 aircraft designed by Ilyushin Design Bureau, made its first flight. Until now, many experts argue that this wide-body airliner is close to be the most reliable in the world. Despite this, the Il-86 was decommissioned, and the Russian civil aviation aircraft is being filled by used Boeing and Airbus.

Ilyushin received an order for the development of a wide-body passenger aircraft with 350 seats on February 22, 1970. Among the requirements to the aircraft, there was a condition that passengers must be able to have carry-on luggage. Research was conducted, and fuselage was designed allowing installation of nine seat rows with two aisles, and the width of these aisles was larger than in the same type of foreign wide-body aircraft such as McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

In Soviet times, IL-86 was mainly used for domestic medium distance scheduled flights, and in the post-Soviet times for charter flights to popular holiday destinations.

Test-pilot of 1st Class Alexander Akimenkov said in an interview to us that the task of the IL-86 was transporting people to the popular resorts, while saving them time for checking in and waiting for the luggage. "It performed this task well, but then comfort was forgotten. Now, there are no aircraft that would be designed considering the wishes and needs of passengers," said Akimenkov.

IL-86 was produced commercially from 1980 to 1993. During this time 106 aircraft were assembled, three of which were exported to China. IL-86 has not been used on passenger flights since April of this year.

For the entire time of operation only four aircraft were lost, with only one plane crash that occurred in 2002 at the airport "Sheremetyevo". The airliner crashed shortly after take-off with 16 crew members on board, 14 of whom died. Around the same time, in early 2000s the IL-86 were getting decommissioned. Among the reasons were noisy engines and high fuel consumption.

However, adequate replacement for the famous plane was never found. Serial production of IL-96 has never been fully established. At first it was called "the hope of the domestic aircraft industry," and then it was decided that it simply cannot compete with the European Airbus and U.S. Boeing. Incidentally, in the entire history of the exploitation of IL-96 there have been no accidents and disasters that caused deaths.

Foreign aircraft started filling the vacant niche. Carriers prefer to purchase used airliners. For example, in 2004 Russian airlines bought 15 aircraft of various imported production time - Boeing - 747, 757, 767 and only four domestic ones.

It is worth noting that approximately a year ago one of the pilots of the Russian airlines called the "MK" to talk about what is happening in the Russian aviation. Anatoly Knyshov, in the recent past a senior state inspector of the Federal Service for Transport Supervision, test pilot and Hero of Russia who has mastered 50 types of military and civilian aircraft, reported that IL-96, in fact, could make a good competition to Western aircraft.

"The IL-96 employs active automatic stabilization system of aircraft in flight. Not only it provides comfort for passengers, but also automatically, without pilot participation, extinguishes the oscillation, stabilizes it in the air stream, thereby increasing the operating time. At the request of the general designer I've made six landings with simulated failure of all engines. It has not been done with any of the foreign planes, and with the IL-96 this task can be performed even by a crew of an average level of training," said Knyshov.

Why do Russian carriers not support domestic producers? "Kickbacks swept the country, including aviation. Airbus expressly states in aircraft sales contract: broker gets 10 percent of the amount of the transaction. Boeing shamelessly published data that in 2009 the company spent $72 million to bribe officials of the CIS, advancing their aircraft. All of it was basically junk," explained Vladimir Salnikov, commander of the IL-96.

It is an open secret that Russian aviation industry is now more dead than alive. If during the Soviet times every fourth civilian aircraft in the world displayed a label "Made in USSR", now Russia's contribution to the world aeronautics is barely two percent. The plans of the Russian avia-monopolist- "United Aircraft Corporation" to produce "over 20" aircraft Sukhoi SuperJet 100 in 2012 are seen as a small sensation. To date, twenty of them have been produced, which is already a good development.

After the crash of Yak-42 near Yaroslavl in the fall of this year, Transport Minister Igor Levitin decided to report at a meeting of the State Duma on what is happening with the domestic civil aviation. According to Levitin, the average age of aircraft in civil aviation of the Russian Federation is 21 years. There are 1,523 civil aircraft in the Russian aviation, of which 479 are "foreigners."    

Alexander Akimenkov sees nothing surprising in the fact that the Russian fleet is occupied by aircraft of foreign companies.

"We can only fly the planes that are Russia's state-certified, but that right was transferred to MAC, and MAC is a public organization that works on the reimbursable basis, according to their charter, so they primarily pursue their own benefits. That is, the certification tests are usually 2-3 flight, which are as follows: MAC delegation is loaded on the plane, they ride, drink, and that's it, "said the test pilot. He added that" we are ruled by those who receive commissions from the purchase of Airbus and Boeing. The officially allowed fee is up to 15 percent. On the foreign side it is not punishable by law, it is the amount stated in the contract. It is very easy to track corruption it ones so desires."

Ksenia Obraztsova


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