Russian over-size cargo specialist Volga-Dnepr Airlines has performed the first commercial flight of an Ilyushin Il-76 into the USA since 2000.
Volga-Dnepr took delivery of its first new Il-76TD-90VD in June last year and a second -90VD will be delivered this year. The Perm PS-90A-76-powered aircraft, which also features Western avionics, took off from Detroit this week (pictured below). The company says the flights "underline the return of the Il-76 to the World's most important cargo markets". Flights of the -90VD into European, Japanese and Australian airports started last year, leaving the USA as the final hole.
Since the introduction of International Civil Aviation Organization Stage 3 noise pollution restrictions in 2002, only military Il-76s have been allowed into US airspace but no freighter flight had been made for two years previosu to that date.
Modification of the D-30-engined IL-76TDs to meet Stage 4 noise regulations, is understood to cost around $18 million each. The upgrade programme was initiated by Volga-Dnepr, which established Volga-Dnepr Leasing in 2004 to manage the process. The Il-76TD-90VD has an increased payload of 50t and greater range.
The first flight from the USA left Detroit Metropolitan airport on 10 February to Baghdad with an unspecified consignment. A day earlier, the aircraft – chartered by a Russian oil company – flew into the United States from Kazan with a shipment of raw oil samples.
Andrey Pakhomov, Director General of Volga-Dnepr Leasing, said: “The first two charters involving landing and taking off in the USA were a milestone for the aircraft and our company’s strategic development. The aircraft has been sorely missed by commercial customers since 2000 but, today, the Il-76TD-90VD is back in the world market and represents a major success not only for Volga-Dnepr but also for Russian aviation.”