TsAGI Centenary in the history of aviation: the Il-76 aircraft
26 March 2018
“Heavenly truck,” “Bogatyr Ilysha,” “A hundred usage aircraft” — all terms to describe the Il-76 aircraft. The first flight of this machine, unique in its own way, took place in March 25, 1971.
Sergey Ilyushin, the famous designer, created the military transport Il-76 in the mid-1960s. He worked with Vasily Margelov, the airborne troops’ reformer. The new aircraft was intended for different types of cargo, troops, weapons, and weapon teams’ transportation and landing. Such a “big man” needed a newer, more powerful engine, and Pavel Soloviev, the Head of the Perm Design Bureau, created it. Designers also developed special landing gear to operate the aircraft at unprepared fields. The aircraft loading entrance has a complicated flap structure, providing extensive use of the aircraft’ interior space.
“Bogatyr Ilysha” also needed a powerful wing flap system, which the Ilyushin Design Bureau specialists and TsAGI scientists worked on together. As a result, they achieved record-breaking lift characteristics for the aircraft. In TsAGI wind tunnels they held airframe design tests where horizontal tail and engine pod position was studied. In March 25, 1971 the Il-76 made its first flight from the airfield at Khodynskoye to Zhukovsky for further tests. That summer it was presented at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget. Twenty-seven world flight airspeed and weight-lifting records were achieved by this giant.
The IL-76 was produced through a large number of series. Even today it remains one of the most reliable and outstanding examples of aeronautical engineering in our country. The PJSC “IL” began to work on the extension of the active aircraft’s operational life not long ago, during which TsAGI specialists held Il-76 full-scale structure endurance tests.
The IL-76 has a few dozen modifications as well. The most famous among them is the IL-76 MD with greater carrying capacity and range. A new IL-76 MD-90A version was created in the early 2000s. Aircraft avionics, engine and structure were modified and the aircraft received a fundamentally different wing design.
TsAGI specialists contributed to the engine mount PS-90A wing creation. The Institute conducted Il-76 MD-90A static strength, fatigue and construction survivability tests. In 2018 TsAGI staff held ground-based frequency tests of the newest Russian fuel tanker, the IL-78 M-90A, a modification of the military transport aircraft IL-76 MD-90A. In the long term it will become the principal tanker for aerial refueling of frontline and special aviation.