The first Soviet designed widebody airliner was the Ilyushin IL-86. First flying on 22 December 1976, it entered service with Aeroflot over four years later on 26 December 1980.
Powered by four Kuznetsov NK-86 engines, the aircraft had a typical range of 4,000 kilometres with a full passenger load. This made it a short to medium range jet, though it was used on long-haul services with fuel stops, such as Moscow to Havana, stopping at Shannon and Gander along the way.
Ilyushin IL-86 Video
Following on from last weeks video about the Tupolev TU-154, we stay behind the Iron Curtain for a look at the Ilyushin IL-86. The video below gives a nice overview of the aircraft in about eight minutes.
Airports in remote areas of the Soviet Union were not equipped to handle such a large aircraft. Passengers were able to board from the tarmac via three seats of stairs into the cargo hold, drop their luggage, then go upstairs into the cabin. Quite unusual!
Aeroflot operated virtually all of the 106 aircraft produced between 1976 and 1991. Just three were exported, to China Xinjiang Airlines, in 1990.
Stringent noise regulations prevented the aircraft flying to most of the world from April 2002, and it was finally withdrawn from service in 2011. Its successor is the Ilyushin IL-96, which will be covered in a future article.
In many ways, the Soviet aviation industry was always behind their counterparts in the USA and Europe. As they introduced the Ilyushin IL-86 in service, the western types were already moving towards widebody twins.
Engine technology always seemed to be the limiting factor in the Soviet Union. Even today, the Russian aviation industry is still struggling to sell their aircraft around the world, with spares support being a major issue.
Have you ever flown on the Ilyushin IL-86? What was it like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by Udo K. Haafke on Airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons.