ICE-LAND! Russia’s Gigantic Il-76 Aircraft Makes 1st Landing On Antarctic Ice Airfield After Flying 5300 Km – Watch

For the first time, the Ilyushin Il-76TD-90VD aircraft has touched down on the ice airfield at Russia’s Novolazarevskaya outpost in Antarctica, the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute said. 

According to the institute, the runway was put into operation in November. A Volga-Dnepr Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft, outfitted with the PS-90A-76 engines, conducted the first flight from Cape Town to the Progress station on November 7. 

The institute said that the aircraft traveled over 5,300 kilometers in 6.5 hours and safely landed in low visibility due to the expertise of its pilots. The testing outcomes will allow the flight manual for aircraft equipped with this engine type to be supplemented with provisions for landing on snow-covered ice airfields. 

The plane carried 82 passengers and more than 6.5 tons of supplies for constructing a new winter complex at the Vostok station. A joint crew led by chief pilots of the Ilyushin Aviation Complex Nikolai Kuimov and the State Research Institute of Civil Aviation Ruben Yesayan executed the landing.

The runway is 3000 meters long and 100 meters wide. The runway can allow the landing of both small and larger planes like the Il-76. There are reportedly four aircraft from Cape Town to Progress, a Russian research station in Antarctica, scheduled to transport construction workers to Vostok.

Progress built a small aircraft runway for seasonal expeditions and shuttle flights between the Research stations. The facility was established on April 1, 1988, and is the newest Russian research facility in Antarctica. 

Vostok Station - Wikipedia
Vostok Station – Wikipedia

It is situated in the oasis of the Larsemann Hills in Princess Elisabeth Land, on the eastern shore of Prydz Bay. According to the institute’s website, Progress is the center of the Russian Antarctic expedition and an intracontinental logistical base.

That said, Moscow has been conducting research in Antarctica since the 19th century. Russia’s ambitious plan for the White Continent and its surroundings through 2030 stands out among Antarctic state documents.

Examining the region’s “geological structure and minerals” by land, air, and the sea is one of the key goals of the 2021 action plan for that vision. 

IL-76 Military Transport Aircraft

The Ilyushin Il-76 is a Soviet-era military transport aircraft. It was designed and deployed to fly strategic military supplies into front-line air bases in the harshest operational situations. The II-76 prototype flew for the first time in 1971.


It was developed to replace the An-12. The Ilyushin II-76 went into production in 1974. The basic II-76 (NATO reporting name Candid-A) transport was particularly designed for military use. Later, It was used for various operations during the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.

The aircraft has a standard aerodynamic design with a high-set, swept wing and T-shaped tail unit. The beam-type fuselage is divided into an oval section over the crew cabin and a circular portion over the cargo hold. 

High-lift devices, including deflectable five-section leading-edge slats, triple-slotted trailing-edge extension flaps, ailerons, spoilers, and air brakes, are installed on the wing leading and trailing edges.

Ilyushin Il-76 – Wikipedia

The air-drop and cargo handling equipment is designed to load, unload, and air-drop paratroopers and freight. The aircraft is outfitted with a defensive assistance package with two cannons, fire-control radars, two radar warning systems, jammers, infrared flare cartridges, and chaff dispensers.

The onboard equipment is designed to carry out airlift and air-drop missions during the day and night under hostile air defense circumstances and VFR and IFR (visual flight rules and instrument flight rules) weather conditions.

The basic Il-76, Il-76M, Il-76MD, Il-78, Il-76-MF, and Il-76MD-90A are a few design variations. The Il-76M version is almost identical to the Il-76 basic aircraft in design, aerodynamic arrangement, and flying performance characteristics. However, it has a maximum payload of 47 tons as opposed to the Il-76’s 28 tons.

Moscow unveiled the Il-76MD-90 in August 2007, with four Perm PS-90A76 turbojet engines and enhanced Leninets Kupol-76M avionics. 

The military transport aircraft Il-76MD-90A is an improved version of the Il-76MD. The plane can transport military troops, equipment, cargo, and weaponry. In October 2019, it completed its maiden factory flight tests.

Over 800 cargo planes were manufactured, along with several specialized variations. It is operated by several countries, including Russia, Algeria, Belarus, China, Cuba, India, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, and Ukraine.