The only flying prototype of the new Russian Iliushin Il-112V transport aircraft crashed on Tuesday (17) in Kubinka, about 70 km from Moscow.
The plane is the offer of the government of Vladimir Putin to replace the fleet of light cargo ships inherited from the Soviet Union, and has been in the test phase since its first flight in 2019.
The exact cause of the crash is not known, but a video which circulated on the Internet clearly shows that the problem started with the direct engine of the turboprop. It caught fire and trying to turn the plane to the right, the pilots lost lift and it fell back towards the ground.
All three test pilots, including the legendary Nikolai Kuimov, have died. They were approaching Kubinka airport and the plane crashed in an area of dense forest, generating a fireball and smoke.
The Il-112V is the military version of a controversial light cargo aircraft, capable of carrying 5 tons. In 1994, three years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the manufacturer Iliushin offered the government the model, which in the civilian version can carry 44 passengers.
With low investment and suspicion of irregularities in the execution of the contract, the aircraft dragged on without even a prototype being built.
Already under Putin, in 2010, the government finally canceled the project. Three years later, it was reactivated under new foundations and finally worked. Three planes were built and one, which crashed on Tuesday, was in flight testing for two years.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said in an interview that the program was experiencing technical difficulties, not least due to the weight of the aircraft’s heavier-than-expected fuselage.
The expectation was to see the issues resolved by the end of the year and to speed up production, given the accelerated aging of the fleet of around 100 Antonov An-26s in operation in Russia.
The venerable aircraft is used in nearly 30 countries and was the basis of Soviet and Russian regional transport aviation.
It was, however, designed by the Antonov office, which during the separation from the Soviet Union remained in Ukraine, a country with which Russia has strained relations.
Thus, Iliushin, which integrates with manufacturers like Mikoian-Gurevitch and Sukhoi the holding United Aircraft Corporation, was encouraged to devote itself to projects which would be natural to Antonov.