ILYUSHIN'S STRETCHED version of the IL-76, the MF, finally had its first flight on 1 August from the Chkalov production plant-owned airfield in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The 40min flight went well, according to test pilot Anatoly Knystov.

A shortage of funds and the late availability of a suitable engine had been responsible for a long delay in the programme (Flight International, 28 June-4 July).

The 210t aircraft, powered by four 157kN (35,200lb) Aviadvigatel/Perm PS-90AN turbofans and with a 6.6m fuselage stretch, will be flown to the Ilyushin flight-test base at Zhukovsky, before having its public debut at the MosAero show later this month.

More than 900 Il-76s have already been delivered since the original aircraft went into service in 1974.

The Russian and Uzbekistan Governments have signed an agreement to unite the Ilyushin design bureau, the Voronezh production site for the Il-96, and the Chkalov plant in Tashkent, which also builds the Il-114.

The agreement promises Government support for the joint venture, and frees it from the need to pay custom duties on transfer of aircraft and components between the two countries.

The agreement was signed, during the visit of the Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin, to Tashkent in late July.

Source: Flight International