Russian manufacturer test-flies prototype widebody passenger airplane | Airlines

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Russia’s leading aircraft manufacturer says it’s completed a successful test flight of a new widebody passenger airplane that it claims could replace Western aircraft in the country’s skies. 

The United Aircraft Corporation said a prototype of its IL-96-400M long-haul airplane has taken off for the first time on a flight that lasted 26 minutes and reached altitudes of up to 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) and speeds of up to 390 kilometers per hour (242 mph), according to a news release posted by the company last week.

UAC, which oversees Russian aviation brands including Tupolev, Ilyushin and Sukhoi, said the plane will be capable of carrying up to 370 passengers, a capacity that would put it alongside the likes of Airbus’ A340 or Boeing’s 777.

It said the airplane marked a step up from the previous IL-96-300 aircraft, production of which reportedly halted more than a decade ago because it was unable to compete with Western models.

“The first and successful flight of the modernized IL-96-400M is a demonstration of the highest level of competence of domestic aircraft manufacturers,” Russia’s deputy prime minister, Denis Manturov, said in the release.

According to UAC, the IL-96-400M can be configured in up to three passenger classes and will be installed with a “modern infotainment system” offering internet, TV and satellite communications. It will also be equipped with a “modern” kitchen.

The new airplane, which was photographed midair decorated in UAC corporate colors, could be seen as a public relations win for Russia at a time when its domestic aviation industry is creaking under pressure of Western sanctions imposed because of its invasion of Ukraine.

US and European sanctions on leasing planes to Russia led to that country losing nearly 10% of commercial aircraft…

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