Nose-to-nose with a Volga-Dnepr Il-76. The windows at the forward navigator’s station are a distinctive feature of the aircraft.
With Boeing in our backyard, unusual aircraft are not an uncommon sight at any of metro Seattle’s airports. Antonov An-124s are regular visitors, usually delivering engines to Boeing’s Everett factory. I was recently at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) when a rare bird was there to pick up some cargo.
A crane and flatbed trailer were used to load large crates of specialized welding equipment that was to be delivered to Australia
This particular Ilyushin-76-TD-90-VD is owned by Russia-based Volga-Dnepr Airlines, which operates five of these aircraft. Part of the Volga-Dnepr group, the parent company also owns Airbridge Cargo Airlines and Atran Airlines.
RubyStar Airlines operates numerous IL-76TDs, but I only got to fly on EW-78836 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
What’s better than flying on an IL-76MD like I did in North Korea? Flying on an IL-76TD somewhere outside of the most restrictive, hostile-to-photographers country on Earth, obviously.
Inside the Navigator’s station of an IL-76TD (in flight) – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
So, you probably want to know what an MD does differently than a TD. Letters and a lack of observer’s post/tail gunner in the rear area under the tail. For a civilian IL-76TD, it is faired over. Sometimes, this fairing is done crudely – indicating MD-to-TD conversion most likely sometime after the collapse of the USSR. That’s really it. They’re the same in every other way. Same Soloviev engines, same flight deck, same lavatory nook.
Air Koryo IL-76MD (P-912) sitting in North Korea.
After UPS stopped doing weekend passenger charters with specifically configured 727s, hitching a ride on a freighter became something most civilians could only dream of. Even then, their charter aircraft had windows, conventional seats, easily accessible lavatories, and galleys. Although a 727 is a unique aircraft to fly on these days, I prefer Russian metal.
Soviet-era freighters are iconic. Anyone who has ever seen an AN-124 (Ruslan) land at KPAE knows the kind of crowd they can draw. I didn’t get to travel on a Ruslan, but I did get to go on the most common Russian cargo aircraft: The IL-76MD.
P-912 was one of the last IL-76MDs ever made, despite still being equipped with the ubiquitous Soloviev D-30. Rolling off the line in 1990, this aircraft has been with Air Koryo ever since. Those of you who read my IL-18 article will remember my primary complaint: It was not loud enough. The IL-76 totally comes through.