The global health crisis has totally altered the way we fly, and airlines are the most aware of this. Air travel demand has decreased as more countries have declared a state of emergency, and airlines are still trying to persuade passengers that it is still safe to board a plane despite the pandemic.
As the number of passengers has decreased dramatically in the last year or so, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, or UAC, has realized that one of their projects makes little sense.
It’s the Il-96-400M, Russia’s long-haul passenger plane, which the country intended to develop in response to Airbus and Boeing.
The wide-body passenger airliner was to have over 400 seats, making it one of the largest aircraft of its kind. The original requirements were remarkable, to say the least, as UAC wanted the aircraft to be able to carry 402 passengers and travel for at least 8,750 kilometers.
Engineers worked on a prototype that expanded the total number of passengers to 430 and the overall range to 10,000 kilometers at one stage.
However, according to the Russian newspaper Vedomosti, there is no market for such an aircraft, which, to be truthful, is not surprising given the current trends discussed earlier. Since no one wants to buy the Il-96-400M, UAC will abandon production, but not before building two separate units for Rossiya Airlines and Russian government officials, including possibly Vladimir Putin.
“There are no orders from airlines, and because wide-body planes around the world are grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no plans to mass-produce the Il-96-400M,” the cited source quoted a spokesperson for Russian deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov as saying.
The plane’s construction began in February 2017, and the Il-96-400M was supposed to take off for the first time by the end of the year.