The Russian government has thrown a lifeline to the Ilyushin IL-96 – a type that has all but disappeared since Aeroflot retired its fleet in favour of western wide-body types recently.
Fourteen examples are expected to be taken over the coming decade, with the majority being new-build aircraft from the production factory at Voronezh.
The remaining examples will be converted from existing IL-96-400T freighter aircraft already in service or storage. One example, RA-96104, was recently converted into a IL-96-400VPU used for aerial command and control missions. Two aircraft will also be destined for use as presidential transports. Four older (and smaller) IL-96-300s are already used for this purpose and may be retired as a result.
With this news in mind, here’s a look at some other Russian types which have not yet succumbed to the dominance of western aircraft types:
Although it made its debut in 1990, the Tu-204 has only seen 76 examples built. It is still officially in production. The Tu-214 was a modernised version which first flew in 1996.
Airlines currently flying the type include Red Wings, Transaero, Cubana, Air Koryo, Cairo Aviation/TNT, and the Russian Government. Transaero and China Cargo have a number of examples on order for the most recent variant ,the Tu-204SM.
Sukhoi Superjet 100
Despite a slow start, things have been looking up lately for this modern Russian regional jet. Around 90 are in service, with airlines such as Aeroflot, Interjet, Gazpromavia, Yakutia and Lao Central Airlines. Future deliveries will include examples for Red Wings, UT Air, Yamal Airlines, Transaero, Comlux, VLM, and the Thai Government, along with examples placed through a number of leasing companies.
This type is the first Russian airliner for years to truly gain international reach, and potential to challenge the dominance of western airliners.
Despite Aeroflot retiring the type from passenger service in 2014, the type remains in active service with Cubana and can often be seen on routes to Europe.
Of the stored fleet of Aeroflot types, it is expected that some will go to Cubana to supplement its fleet. The remainder may also go to government use, or be used as spare part sources for active aircraft or rebuilds.