Paul Duffy and Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

Ilyushin has initiated design work for a freighter version of its 240-seat Il-96-300 four-engined widebody. The design bureau is also studying the development of a Russian-engined version of the Westernised Il-96M/T.

The Il-96-300 freighter project will be developed by a partnership which includes the design bureau, the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association (VASO) - which builds the Il-96 - and Russian banks.

Using the Aviadvigatel PS-90-powered Il-96-300 airframe, the freighter version is expected to carry a 70t (154,000lb) payload over 9,000km (4,860nm). Aviadvigatel is offering a more powerful PS-90 engine for the freighter version, with a 4,400lb (20kN) increase in thrust, to 39,650lb.

Operating costs will be slightly higher than those of the similarly sized McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30F, with the Russian freighter expected to consume around 1t more fuel per flight hour. The list price for the new aircraft should be little more than $30 million, and Western certification is expected to be sought for the derivative.

Il-96-300 cargo plans have emerged following a decision by the banks to provide development and certification finance. The programme has received added impetus following delays to the larger Westernised, Pratt & Whitney PW2337-powered Il-96M/T programme. This aircraft is offered as a 92t payload freighter (T) and a 300-seat passenger model (M), but deliveries to Aeroflot Russian International Airlines have been held up as the promised US Exim bank funding has not yet materialised. The first and only Il-96T produced so far is due to be delivered to Aeroflot by early April for proving flights.

These delays have prompted Ilyushin to study a PS-90-powered version, with the higher-thrust engine offered for the Il-96-300 freighter. Dubbed the Il-96TR, the price of the new model would be reduced by one- third. If it goes ahead, it could spell the end for the PW2000-powered models.

Source: Flight International