9/28/1988: Maiden Flight of the Ilyushin ll-96

Today in Aviation, the Russian-built, long-haul, wide-body, quad-jet Ilyushin ll-96 took its first flight in 1988.



September 28, 2023

DALLAS - Today in Aviation, the Russian-built, long-haul, wide-body quad-jet Ilyushin ll-96 took its first flight in 1988. The aircraft was subsequently certified in 1992 before entering Aeroflot (SU) service in July 1993.

The aircraft is a shortened version of the Soviet Union's first wide-bodied airliner, the ll-86. It has various advanced features over its predecessor, including an increased max take-off weight, a redesigned wing with winglets, improved avionics, and upgraded turbofan engines.

Pre-COVID-19, Cuba's flag carrier Cubana (CU) had five ll-96-300s in service. Photo: Mark Tang GFDL 1.2 via Wiki Commons


A number of variants of the ll-96 have been built. The base version was the -300, capable of carrying 262 passengers in a two-class configuration. Five heavily modified aircraft known as the -300PU have been used in the Russian presidential fleet.

The -96M is a stretched version capable of carrying 312 passengers in a three-class layout. Four Pratt & Whitney PW2337 engines power the type and no longer require a Flight Engineer. The manufacturer also created a freighter known as the ll-96T.

Inside an Ilyushin Il-96 operated by Cubana de Aviación. Photo: DomodedovoSpotters - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

A Plane With No Orders

In February 2017, a further variant was announced. Based on the -96T freighter, the -400M would be capable of carrying 400 passengers. The prototype airframe was built, and the first flight was due in 2021.

However, there are no orders for this version. Therefore, in April, it was announced that the aircraft would not enter mass production due to a "lack of interest from the airlines and the worldwide idling of the long-range fleet due to the pandemic.”

Featured image: Aeroflot was the launch customer of the ll-96 and operated ten of the type between 1993 and 2014. Photo: Kirill Naumenko, CC BY-SA 3.0