Russian design bureau Ilyushin is studying the feasibility of developing a twin-engined aircraft based on the Il-96 as part of its exploration of higher-thrust powerplants.
Ilyushin is already working on an enhanced version of the Il-96, designated the -400M, which would be capable of accommodating around 400 passengers.
This aircraft would use four Aviadvigatel PS-90A1 engines, which each have a thrust of 38,360lb (171kN). Ilyushin says these are "more powerful and efficient" than the PS-90A at 35,270lb.
But United Aircraft says that Ilyushin, which heads its transport division, is "looking into" a potential twin-engined design "to continue the life of the Il-96 aircraft".
"However, at this time, very little detail is available – mostly because the engine is not there yet," the company tells FlightGlobal.
Ilyushin says it has "concluded the contract" with United Aircraft for manufacturing the modernised four-engined Il-96-400M.
But it recently indicated that it was looking at Aviadvigatel's proposed PD-35 engine, a high-thrust variant of the PD-14 intended for the Irkut MC-21.
The PD-35 would have a baseline thrust of more than 77,000lb, twice that of the PS-90A1, and Aviadvigatel has indicated that the powerplant family could extend to thrusts of 100,000lb.
Ilyushin says the PD-35 will emerge by 2025 and that it is working on a project which would consist of two PD-35s in a configuration which would reduce fuel consumption and maintenance costs.
"In this arrangement the Il-96-400M shall get a new index and replenish the two-engined family of widebody passenger long-haul aircraft," the company tells FlightGlobal.
Ilyushin is also negotiating over the possible use of foreign-built powerplants.
"Designing the Il-96-400M with PD-35s or powerplants of other manufacturers will give a potential customer an opportunity to choose an aircraft with the most optimal modernisation, and help the aircraft to [reach] the international market," says Ilyushin.
It has not indicated the extent of modification or redesign which might be necessary to accommodate the higher-thrust engines.
United Aircraft is already developing a twin-engined long-haul aircraft, designated the CRAIC CR929, in co-operation with Chinese airframer Comac. The company stresses that this project is separate to Ilyushin's future Il-96 considerations.