Il-96-400M could become a new “doomsday plane”
Despite the fact that in September 1988 the USSR entered the “club” of manufacturers of wide-body long-haul aircraft, joining Boeing and Airbus, our Il-96-300, unlike its competitors, never became widespread.
To a large extent, the reason for this was four powerful and reliable, but at the same time completely uneconomical engines. In addition, the IL-96-300 crew consisted of three people, which was also associated with some costs.
However, the plane still found its niche. It became in demand in the Special Flight Detachment “Russia” for transporting the President and top officials of the state. At the same time, in 2017, it was decided to develop and build a new version of the aforementioned Il-94-400M aircraft.
The winged aircraft, which differs from its predecessor in a fuselage extended by 9 meters, more powerful PS 90A1 engines and a passenger capacity of up to 370 people, recently made its first test flight.
It is worth noting here that mass production of the Il-94-400M is most likely also unlikely, since the problem with engine efficiency has not been resolved. Yes, in the future there is an option to replace four PS 90A1s with two promising PD-35s. But the latter should be ready only by 2030.
At first glance, it might seem that the new wide-body aircraft would be no more in demand than its predecessor, which means its development was futile. But that's not true.
Firstly, after leaving the joint Russian-Chinese CR929 program, our engineers will have to start designing a new wide-body aircraft from scratch. Experience in creating the Il-94-400M will be very useful here.
Secondly, and this is the main thing, the Il-94-400M can become a new “doomsday plane” and replace the Il-86 VzPU. Of course, the latter is still capable of effectively fulfilling its role, but due to the advent of new types of electronic equipment, all of them simply will not fit into the old aircraft.
As a result, the project to convert the Il-94-400M into a “doomsday plane” has already started and is called “Zveno-3S”. Construction of the first such “flying bunker” is already underway at the Voronezh Aircraft Plant.