Aerobus nickname: Passengers of the Ilyushin Il-86 climbed through the belly

With it, the Soviet Union began the era of wide-body aircraft. The Ilyushin Il-86 was a noisy four-engine engine adapted to crowded airfields.

Fixed reservations in the Soviet Union are only available for domestic travelers from the place of departure and not up to two weeks before the flight. The outbound or return flight can only be requested from the other airport.

and, above all, the tens of thousands of citizens who make their way to the summer resorts of the South on their own account and then spend half their vacation there scrambling, paying, and slandering to get back again—often to the usual grief of their companies with days delay. A new machine should bring comfort over these crippled roads – the Il-86, with 350 seats, the Soviets’ first wide-body aircraft, called the “Aerobus”. This is what Spiegel wrote in 1981.

Ilyushin Il-86 is adapted for airfields

It’s about Ilyushin Il-86. The Soviet Union began work on the aircraft concept in 1969, the year before Airbus was founded. The result was the first Soviet wide-body aircraft, powered by four Kuznetsov NK-86 engines, located under the wings for the first time. The first flight of the new aircraft model took place in December 1976, and operations at Aeroflot followed four years later.

However, an aircraft of this size overshadowed the infrastructure of many airports at the time. While the West began to adapt airports to handle aircraft such as the new Boeing 747, the Soviet Union wanted to solve the problem of aircraft characteristics.

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Entry by stomach, elevator into the kitchen

For example, the Il-86 had three retractable ramps which made it less dependent on what the airport on the ground had to offer. Passengers climbed the stairs to the belly of the plane, where there was room for luggage and a large wardrobe. From there, a staircase inside the plane took you to the cabin.

The Il-86’s main galley was also located in the lower fuselage. From there food trolleys went up an elevator to a smaller kitchen. The aircraft had no hand baggage compartments in the middle of the cabin roof, which meant plenty of space. Instead of vents in the ceiling, there were small fans built into the seats.

Long distances only with the help of stops

The Il-86’s biggest problem was its engines. They were gas hungry, very noisy and not powerful enough. Despite having four engines, it managed a range of 5,000 km with 300 passengers. For example, it was necessary to stop in Shannon or Gander on the way from Moscow to Havana. The roads to South America passed through Cape Verde.

As a result, the Il-86, while impressive, was not a huge success as only 106 were built. The machines flew mainly for Soviet airlines, but three copies also went to China Xinjiang Airlines. The last civilian airline was Atlant-Soyuz Airlines, which had to cease operations in 2011.

In the gallery above, you can see photos and videos of the Ilyushin Il-86 and hear the sound of its engines. Clicking on the image opens the gallery in a large format.

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