Paul Duffy/MOSCOW

The Ilyushin Il-96T freighter has become the first Russian commercial transport to receive US Federal Aviation Administration certification, clearing the way for deliveries to begin to Aeroflot Russian International Airlines.

The four-engined widebody, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW2337s and equipped with Rockwell-Collins avionics, won Federal Aviation Regulations Part 25 approval on 2 June, about four months later than planned.

The approval will enable the Il-96T to be registered in the USA and other countries that accept the US standard. Aeroflot deliveries had been held up by the delay in US certification as the aircraft are being financed by the US Exim bank which requires them to be registered in a western country.

The aircraft is a stretched development of the Perm PS-90-powered Il-96-300, offered in two versions - the Il-96T freighter and the 300-seat Il-96M passenger model. The prototype Il-96M, converted from an Il-96-300, was flown in April 1992.

Ilyushin obtained basic Russian type certification for the Il-96T in March last year, but approval of the passenger M version has not been finalised, possibly because a production aircraft is not available for certification.

The FAA Il-96T audit took seven years, with the Administration having to be satisfied not only with the design and strength of the aircraft, but also with Russia's industry standards.

The formal hand-over of the certification approval will take place during the Paris air show. Ilyushin has commitments for 29 Il-96M/Ts from Aeroflot (17 Ms and three Ts), Transaero (five Ms), and Volga Dnepr (four Ts).

Source: Flight International