United Aircraft of Russia is marketing plans for an updated IL-96 from the -300 standard to an -400M standard.  The picture below is of an -300.

We understand from a UAC source that there are certain requirements within Russia for a widebody aircraft from a number of government structures. These structures have a requirement that the aircraft should use a minimum of “foreign” components.  Foreign components are a bigger issue than many realize. For example the US requires approval of US-sourced components.  These “strings attached” don’t work for everybody.

The IL-96-400M would  be an interim solution aimed at satisfying this requirement until the jointly developed aircraft with China appears. This new widebody is the purported C929.

UAC believes there is a case for them to update the IL-96 because it offers “a high level of competitiveness” along with low operating costs and a moderate price.  Considering the quite specific and unique requirements from the Russian government the work appears assured.

Doing this update will be challenging as there re only 23 IL-96s, of which six are parked.  How UAC can ever recover their costs from such a project is tough to fathom.  The IL-96 dates from 1992, so it is an aged design already.  Moreover as we see in the table, the proposed improvements are marginal.  But if the focus is the state’s requirements, normal airline economics probably don’t apply.


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