The Ilyushin Il-76 is a multi-purpose, fixed-wing, four-engine turbofan strategic airlifter designed by the Soviet Union's Ilyushin design bureau. It was first planned as a commercial freighter in 1967.
Recently, I flew on SilkWay Ilyushin IL-76TD-90 transporter from Baku, Azerbaijan to Erbil, Iraq. It was a mission of a lifetime!
Before the flight, I took a photo with all the airmen. It took a strong team of 5 men including 2 pilots, a flight engineer, a radio controller, and a navigator to operate the aircraft. The flight also carried a loadmaster and 2 technicians.
This particular IL-76TD-90 has new stage 4 noise compliant engines (Perm PS90 engines) instead of the older and noisier Soloviev D-30 engines. It can fly to any airport unrestricted (noise abatement) with better performance.
The cockpit looked different from the Western conventional airplane. Some parts of the cockpit has been modified and digitized.
One of the highlights before departure is to climb up to the top of the IL-76 through its escape hatch door. The wingspan was massive!
Before takeoff, the captain and loadmaster briefly introduced the cockpit and the cargo cabin.
Inside the cabin, it has a crane system and ramp system able to load without any existing infrastructure in remote airfield.
The Flight to Erbil, Iraq
The cockpit of IL-76 split into the upper deck where 2 pilots and flight engineer and a radio controller sit.
A navigator sits on the lower deck, with a view of the glass nose.
Loadmaster has its own station too in the pressurized cabin.
My flight to Erbil took 2.5 hours. The IL-76TD-90 flies at about 700-750 km/h.
Our cruise was around 30,000 ft. The fuel burn at cruise was about 1.6 tons per engine. It is interesting to see 2 iPad holders on top as pilots don't use paper charts anymore.
Watch the takeoff of IL-76 on my video:
View of the Perm PS90 engines overwing.
The view is absolutely the best from the navigator's office.
We crossed the Caspian Sea, entering Iran and later made a right turn towards Iraq. The landscape gradually became desert.
We were number 3 on approach and was put on hold in a DME ARC. The air was pretty rough with thermals and clouds over Erbil. There were other military planes such as C-17 and A400M landing before us.
Watching the landing on my video:
Erbil to Baku
We didn't spend long on the ground at Erbil. The cargo took just 15 minutes to offload through the rear ramp and a high loader. After dropping off the cargo, we flew back to Baku empty.
The IL-76 took about 8 mins to start the engines, one by one after push back. The 2 technicians will be responsible for communicating with the cockpit on engine start and push back. Once all engines had started, they get inside the aircraft and close the door to depart.
Unlike An-124, IL-76TD-90 do not require engine warm-up on the runway, it is ready to depart immediately.
We took off from Rwy36 of Erbil quickly, with the long runway end in sight from the glass nose of IL-76.
I settle down and have my late lunch in the cabin with a big smile. I think it was the internal satisfaction from flying the IL-76.
To be able to experience a flight on the IL-76 put a huge smile on my face and my heart. I am glad to be able to showcase the unique operation of this great transporter. The unique capability of the IL-76 has supported many air missions in the world.
Watch the video for landing in Baku. The views are beautiful across the Caspian Sea.