The Soviet Union has unveiled its first Jumbo jet -- the Ilyushin-86 which can carry 350 passengers.
The Soviet Union has unveiled its first Jumbo jet -- the Ilyushin-86 which can carry 350 passengers. The new airliner is expected to fly commercially early next year.
SYNOPSIS: The first public landing of the Ilyushin-86 marks the Soviet Union's entry into the Jumbo jet age. It's now a decade since Boeing in the United States launched the wide-bodied revolution with its 747 model. Now, after a disastrous attempt to introduce supersonic passenger planes, the Russians have opted to the Jumbo ranks.
The Ilyushin resembles the European Airbus -- featuring a twin-deck cabin with an upper passenger section and a walk-on baggage compartment beneath it. It will have a range of 3,600 kilometres (2,100 miles) -- about a thousand kilometres less than Western experts had predicted.
Western analysts had also thought the plane would carry four hundred passengers, but now this figure will be limited to 350. Both shortfalls are attributed to technical problems involving engine performance. When it begins regular passenger flights next year, the Ilyushin will fulfil a vital need. There is no transcontinental highway in the Soviet Union -- and only one railway running across it.
More than a hundred million people fly on Soviet domestic routes every year, and aviation officials hope the plane will relieve congestion at major Soviet airports.