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Aeroflot studies Il-96-400

PAUL DUFFY / MOSCOW

Ilyushin is developing a Russian-powered model for passenger and freighter requirements

The Ilyushin Il-96-400, a Russian engined version of the defunct Pratt & Whitney PW2337-powered Il-96M/T, is under development with Aeroflot considering the acquisition of both passenger and freighter versions.

The Il-96-400 is equipped with Russian avionics rather than the Rockwell Collins system on the M/T, and is powered by Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines. Russian cargo airline Atlant Soyuz has commitments for 10 -400T freighter versions, and confirmed the first four aircraft at the recent MAKS 2001 air show in Moscow. It is evaluating the Il-96-400T as a replacement for its 17 Ilyushin Il-76 freighters.

The first of four confirmed orders will be delivered to Atlant early next year after the conversion of the only completed Il-96T airframe to -400T standard. A second aircraft will be delivered within 24 months. The prototype Il-96M was displayed at MAKS in "-400" specification as its PW2337s had been replaced with PS-90A engines as P&W required its engines returned.

Aeroflot has placed a letter of intent for four -400Ts for delivery from 2006 to replace its McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30Fs, and is considering the acquisition of the passenger models, with a decision due by the end of the year.

Leasing company Ilyushin Finance is funding the programme and is providing aircraft to customers on lease. Along with the design bureau it has offered Aeroflot the Il-96-400 with a passenger deck in the underfloor cargo hold for use as a bar and recreational area on long flights. It could be fitted out with a gym, showers and other facilities, and the proposals also cover full internet and in-flight entertainment equipment.

Aeroflot has expressed interest in the proposal and both sides are working to establish the airline's requirements. It is expected that these will be finalised before the end of the year and, if go-ahead is given, certification of the first aircraft would take two years. An order for four aircraft is envisaged, deliveries beginning in 2003/04.

The Il-96-400 offer comes as Ilyushin informs Aeroflot that it has formally terminated theIl-96M/T programme and released the airline from its five-year-old contract for three Il-96T freighters and 17 Il-96M passenger models.

This 10-year-old US/Russian programme ultimately failed due to funding difficulties. Aeroflot's order for six Il-96-300s remains in place, according to Ilyushin Finance general director, Alexander Roubtsov.

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