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Nuclear remote control, gym and strict rules - we tell everything that is known about the president's plane.
Unique, made in Russia, the safest and, preferably, huge. This is how board number one, the president's plane, was conceived since the middle of the last century. Since 1996, it has been the IL-96-300PU. Only on it Vladimir Putin flies around the country and abroad.
IL-96-300PU is a large aircraft: its length is 55 meters, wingspan is 60 meters. It has a top speed of 900 km / h and has four jet engines (while many foreign liners have two). The same engines power the Tupolev Tu-204 and Tupolev Tu-214 series aircraft, two of the most common commercial aircraft in Russia, generally similar to the Boeing 757.
This aircraft has a standard passenger version for 300 people. Designed in the 1980s at the Voronezh aircraft plant, the IL-96 first flew on a commercial route in December 1992. Nevertheless, Aeroflot completely abandoned them in 2014, and other companies did not even plan to purchase it. All in all, the plant produced 25 of them, and most of them entered the fleet of the special flight unit "Russia" (a subsidiary of Aeroflot), serving the president and the government.
The explanation why the president liked this particular airliner is simple: the passenger IL-96 was considered the most promising domestic development, a kind of pinnacle of Russian aircraft construction. But for airlines it turned out to be too expensive: four engines required twice as much fuel and operating costs as foreign liners.
But for the presidential fleet it was what was needed. “This plane has four engines. Even if two fail, he can climb, and descend, and maneuver, and fly, "- said Major General Vladimir Popov on the YouTube channel. And even on one engine, the presidential airliner will be able to travel up to 800 kilometers and land.
“There are a number of reasons why the Il-96 is now being used as a government aircraft,” said honored pilot of the Russian Federation Vladimir Talanov. - Firstly, it is indeed a very reliable and safe aircraft, which is confirmed by the long-term operation of this aircraft. Plus, this is an element of prestige for the head of state - the leader of not every country can afford to fly on "his" plane, made by the forces of his own state."
In total, the IL-96 in the presidential version has been improved five times since its inception, and the last one a couple of months ago.
At first glance, the presidential plane does not stand out in any way against the background of other planes from the "Russia" fleet, except for the small Russian flag on its tail. But inside it is an absolutely unique transport with the highest requirements for communication and security, for which the board was nicknamed "the flying Kremlin".
Equipped with special communications, it can broadcast encrypted messages from any height to anywhere in the world through any communication channels. "PU" in the name of the vessel means "control point" (armed, among other things, with a "nuclear button"). It is equipped with radar, radio-technical, optical-electronic and visual control.
All equipment is duplicated in case of emergency situations, and some types of equipment are duplicated several times. The layout of the premises and the technical furnishings were carried out by onboard equipment specialists from the Austrian division of Diamond Aircraft Industrie. At the same time, what exactly is established on this board is classified as a state secret. Much more known about the household "stuffing" of the board №1.
It is really possible to live and work on the liner no worse than in the Kremlin: the president's office, several meeting rooms, a conference room, a relaxation room for the president and a salon for guests, a mini-gym, a dining room, a bar, showers, and a separate medical unit for resuscitation and emergency assistance. Everything is decorated in light colors with accents in the colors of the Russian tricolor, and engravings on historical themes, embroidered by the masters of the Pavlo-Posadka silk manufactory, were used for decoration.
It became known how it looks in 2018, when Putin let Arslan Kaipkulov, a Bashkir schoolboy, aboard on an excursion. He dreamed of making a video about the side.
Estimates of how much it all costs vary. In 2013, the presidential administration ordered two such aircraft - one for 3.8 billion rubles, the other for 5.2 billion rubles. At the same time, the British tabloid Daily Mail reported an actual cost of £ 390 million.
How many IL-96-300PU does Putin have?
In fact, the concept of "board number 1" is not one plane. There are always several similar reserve aircraft: with guards, assistants, journalists. The reserve board follows the "main" one with a difference of 15-20 minutes. In the event of a malfunction and landing of the main board, the reserve one must pick up passengers and carry them on.
Since 1977, there has been a rule to put not one, but two reserve aircraft on departure (reserve reserve). The rule appeared after the US President Richard Nixon flew to Moscow, and Leonid Brezhnev decided to ride it on the Il-62 (the head of state used to fly it). The passengers took their seats, but the aircraft engine did not start. They boarded the reserve plane, but that one also did not fly.
Moreover, all the "president's planes" are not more than 15 years from the moment they left the assembly line. After the expiration of the service life, the liners are transferred to service in other departments, and the president is transferred to a new board.
There are several strict requirements to the board of the president, and the main thing is that everything should work. This applies to both aircraft and personnel. “Even if one seat doesn’t recline, we often change cars and don’t send them on a flight. Or we close this lane for landing,”says Konstantin Tereshchenko, ex-chief pilot of Putin. If in all other airlines there are so-called delayed malfunctions (not threatening safety), and the ship is still sent on a voyage, then this does not happen on board the president.
Another mandatory rule is to work in complete autonomy, like a submarine. This means that the maintenance and repair of board No. 1 is carried out exclusively by its own technical personnel, no strangers at other airports can touch it.
“If the president is visiting, the main board, the reserve board, the forward group are flying. There are six technical personnel on the front line, four on the reserve, and two on the main one. A crew of eight can even go over the entire plane. They are ready for this,”says the former pilot.
But the dispatchers are the same as for civil commercial flights. The only thing is that during the flight of the main board, the echelons are released, the intervals with other aircraft in front and behind are observed. The reserve aircraft has the same thing, but in a slightly truncated form. According to Tereshchenko, if in previous years the distance with other vessels for the main one could be two hours, now it is several times shorter.
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