MOSCOW, RUSSIA — UAC Rolls Out Upgraded Il-96-400M Quadjet Despite Western Market Shift.

On June 7, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), Russia's leading state-owned aircraft manufacturing conglomerate, showcased the Il-96-400M quadjet. This model is a higher-capacity evolution of the widebody aircraft originally developed during the Soviet era.

The prototype was revealed at the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association (VASO) facilities, situated roughly 500 km south of Moscow. The test aircraft, adorned with the company's signature corporate-style livery, is expected to undertake its inaugural flight shortly.

The company described the aircraft as featuring cutting-edge Russian avionics equipment, a new avionics complex, and additional system components. Its extended fuselage enhances its spaciousness, which could potentially make it an attractive option for operators.

However, the Il-96-400M, a quadjet design now considered outdated in the West, currently has no known buyers. The preference in the West has shifted to jets with two engines.

The Il-96 is an updated version of Russia's first widebody, the Il-86, which debuted in the 1970s. Equipped with PS-90 turbofan engines, the Il-96 boasts a more extended range, albeit with a smaller passenger capacity.

In 2017, the UAC announced plans to develop the Il-96-400M, which, with its fuselage extended by nearly 10 meters, could seat up to 390 passengers in a single class. Significant enhancements to this model include updated avionics and Russian-produced components. However, it still relies on the less-efficient PS-90 engines.

UAC provided updates about the prototype's assembly until 2021, the year the maiden flight was initially scheduled. However, the launch was postponed to 2022. The Russian government has stated that mass production of the Il-96-400M is not on the horizon, and only a few aircraft will be constructed for specific missions.

The delay in the CR929 program, a twin-engine widebody project undertaken in collaboration with China, may have injected fresh relevance into the quadjet model.