Il-96-400M will be produced in pieces for a special customer.
April 16, 2021 the newspaper "Vedomosti”Reported that the resumption of serial production of the long-range wide-body airliner Il-96-400M is not planned. The aircraft will be produced in piece units for a special customer - SLO "Russia".
It cannot be said that this news was unexpected, because initially the same United Aircraft Corporation did not count on a large number of orders for this aircraft, and the production time of even the first prototype was postponed.
One look back
Reports of the resumption of production of the Il-96 in the Il-96-400M version and the development of a joint Russian-Chinese wide-body long-range liner CR929 appeared in 2014-2015. Initially, it was not entirely clear why it was necessary to develop two similar aircraft, to spend additional material and design resources on this. Dmitry Rogozin made complete clarity in September 2016, who during a visit to Voronezh said that in the period before the creation of a strategically new passenger aircraft CR929, which is about 2027, the Il-96-400M will cover the basic needs of Russia for both long-haul flights to the Far East and Kamchatka from the European part, as well as for charter flights during the holiday season to those countries where capacious aircraft are needed.
In May 2016, at a meeting on aviation development in Sochi, it was decided to resume production of IL-96-400M passenger aircraft. Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov said then that about 50 billion rubles were planned to be allocated for the implementation of the project for the production of the liner for the period up to 2021.
Il-96-400M is a project of a long-haul passenger aircraft for 300-430 seats based on the less capacious Il-96-300. The program involves the production of one prototype and six serial machines. The total cost of the program is estimated at more than 53 billion rubles. It was planned to start deliveries of the updated liner in 2025. This was announced on the sidelines of the Army forum in August 2017 by the UAC General Director Yuri Slyusar.
“Last year, it was decided to upgrade this aircraft (Il-96-300 - approx." AR " ) to the Il-96-400M variant, which has a larger capacity and new systems. 2025 - the beginning of deliveries of the aircraft into operation, for eight to nine years the aircraft will be produced in small, limited quantities, ”he said.
On August 28, 2018, the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree according to which the 4 billion rubles allocated to the State Transport Leasing Company were redistributed for the purchase of L-410 helicopters and aircraft. According to the previous version of the resolution, approved at the end of 2017, STLC received 4 billion rubles from the budget to advance an order for two Il-96-400M.
In December 2018, the UAC posted on the public procurement website a tender for the execution of R&D work on the modernization of the Il-96-300 into the Il-96-400M version. The tender documents for these works included more than 10 billion rubles. Preliminary tests of the aircraft were supposed to pass from November 2019 to January 2020, and additional certification tests were to be completed in May 2020.
In September 2019, at the Voronezh aircraft plant (VASO), the slipway assembly of the first Il-96-400M was completed, the liner fuselage was moved to the final assembly workshop. And the dates of the first flight instead of 2020 were postponed to 2021.
At the end of 2019, Yuri Slyusar said that the first flight should take place in late 2020 - early 2021. “A slight shift in the first flight may be due to the workload of the Voronezh aircraft plant associated with the implementation of other orders. In parallel with the construction of the prototype Il-96-400M, the construction and repair of aircraft for special customers is underway, it is necessary to redistribute efforts, ”Slyusar said.
In 2020, due to the pandemic, lockdown and the interruption of international flights, a large number of wide-body airliners around the world stopped flying and were sent for storage. Airlines gave priority to smaller aircraft, and part of their fleet of narrow-body airliners was adapted for cargo transportation. The restoration of the aviation industry is forecasted no earlier than in 1.5-2 years, and if in five years after the decision was made to resume production of the airliner, not even a single agreement of intent to buy the Il-96-400M was concluded, now in the conditions the ongoing crisis in international air traffic, the signing of contracts with airlines looks all the more illusory. The Ministry of Industry and Trade in 2020, citing the lack of interest in the aircraft from commercial carriers, proposed to redirect another 7 billion rubles,
“There is no order from the airlines, and taking into account COVID-19 and the downtime of long-haul aircraft around the world, the serial production of the Il-96-400M is not planned yet,” confirmed the representative of the profile Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov. He clarified that production for state customers will be organized. "Vedomosti"Write that in total two aircraft will be assembled, which will go to the fleet of the special flight unit" Russia ". The representative of Rostec confirmed that the manufacturer “has an understanding” about potential government customers: “It should be borne in mind that this is not a mass-produced aircraft initially, we are talking about a special aircraft that will be produced in piece copies,” he stressed.
Il-96-400M was supposed to become a "transitional" product for the period of creation of SHFDMS CR929. In addition, the Russian aircraft industry needs to develop existing competencies and load production facilities. The production rate at VASO is not high, but, according to Yuri Slyusar, the Il-96-400M was supposed to ensure the maintenance of the existing competence and increase the number of aircraft in operation.
IL-96-400M or CR929
Russia is a large country, and it is necessary to transport people from the Far East and Kamchatka to the European part, so Russian airlines are not going to give up long-haul liners. Aeroflot plans to receive its 21st Boeing 777 in May, three of these aircraft will go to the Red Wings fleet. In addition, Aeroflot is preparing to receive three A350s in May-July. The carrier received the first and so far the only copy in February 2020. A firm contract for the supply of 22 A350 airliners was signed back in 2017, Vedomosti informs.
The situation with wide-body aircraft for Russian airlines could be solved by a twin-engine version of the Il-96, and there were such plans - with the installation of two PD-35 engines. But these engines are still in the R&D phase and will be ready by 2026. By that time, the SHFDMS CR929 will already take on real shape.
Installing new promising high-power engines on an airplane with a metal wing looks like a half-hearted solution. Here, as an example, we can cite the history of the creation of the MC-21 aircraft. In an interview, the General Designer of the OKB im. Yakovlev of the Irkut corporation, Oleg Demchenko said that in the process of working out the design of the new airliner, he invited many leading specialists of the Russian aircraft industry for consultations, including Genrikh Novozhilov, with whom they discussed and argued a lot about what the future aircraft should be like. As a result, they came to a consensus that the wing must be composite.
As for the Il-96-400M, the development of a composite wing for it will immediately entail the need to redesign the center section, then the fuselage and empennage, and this, in fact, is the development of a completely new aircraft with colossal financial, time and human costs. A completely new modern airframe and wing with high aerodynamic characteristics must be developed for a new powerful and economical engine. It is impractical and unsafe to use a design developed under the conditions of the previous technological order; it is enough to recall the notorious B737 MAX, where modern engines were installed on the design of the 60s of the last century, which radically changed the dynamic parameters of the aircraft not for the better.
The decision to abandon the serial production of the Il-96-400M proceeds from the emerging realities. VASO will manufacture the number of these aircraft required by the special customer, and the efforts of the UAC and Irkut will be focused on the promising Russian-Chinese liner CR929, which will cover the needs of the two countries for a wide-body modern aircraft.
for the site "Aviation of Russia"