The staff and management of OJSC «IL» congratulate Russian polar explorers on the day of their professional holiday

20 May 2016

May 21 is the Day of Russian Polar Explorers. The history of the sky exploration in the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctic is inextricably linked with the IL make aircraft.

In 1948, regular exploration of the Central Polar Basin began. Several scientific expeditions of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR worked in the North Pole region, so the scientists had to travel regularly to these regions by air.

Long-term and successful operation of «ILYUSHIN» aircraft in the northern latitudes began on May 6, 1948, when a group of three IL-12 commanded by Major Ivan Sevastyanov, performed the first landing on the North Pole.

In March and April 1950, two Polar Aviation IL-12D aircraft towed two cargo C-25 gliders from the Moscow region Chkalovsky airfield to the North Pole. Then the planes landed on the ice airfield, took the gliders and towed them to Krasnoyarsk.

These planes excellently proved themselves in Antarctica. On February 25, 1956 the crew of Ivan Cherevichny, outstanding polar pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union, performed the first reconnaissance flight to the area of the south geomagnetic pole ​​of the Earth onboard Il-12. On March 3, 1956 they performed a flight to the area of South Pole relative inaccessibility i.e., the point in Antarctica which is the farthest one from the ocean.

Il-14 played a great role in the exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic. These robust machines maintained regular communication between the mainland and the polar stations, delivered people and cargoes, carried out reconnaissance of the ice fields and guided the ships through.

In 1962, IL-14P Arctic version was flight tested. The plane featured the retractable ski landing gear and it turned out to be indispensable in the high Antarctic latitudes. The ability to make long flights in difficult weather conditions, in thin air, at temperatures of -70 C and severe icing, the ability to take off and land on limited fields including those selected from the air, easy maintenance have determined the long life of the aircraft in the Soviet Polar aviation. Until the 1990s, the main air transportation in Antarctica was performed by IL-14 type aircraft.

At the end of the 50s, IL-18 aircraft started to explore the northern latitudes. On March 1958, IL-18 piloted by Vladimir Kokkinaki, Ilyushin Design Bureau test pilot, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, carried out a check flight along the route Moscow – St. Petersburg – Moscow. After that, regular flights to the Arctic began.
In December 1961, in the frame of the first air expedition of turboprops, the crew of IL-18B under the command of Alexander Polyakov first reached the coast of Antarctica.

In February 1980, IL-18D performed a flight to Antarctica and such marked the beginning of regular flights from the Soviet Union to the ice continent. The same aircraft performed a nonstop flight along the route Molodezhnaya station - Pole of Inaccessibility - South Geographic Pole – Molodezhnaya station during implementation of geophysics and meteorology research program. The plane returned to Moscow on February 23, 1980 and covered the total of 45 660 km during the whole expedition.

In February 1986, the first flight of Il-76TD heavy transport aircraft to the Antarctic took place. The plane brought 58 participants of the next Antarctic expedition and took back the staff of the previous one.

Il-76 type aircraft excellently proved themselves in the Arctic. In 1986-1987, the crew of Stanislav Bliznyuk, test pilot of Ilyushin Design Bureau, delivered fuel and food to distressed polar stations SP-27 and SP-28 by IL-76MD in the most difficult conditions of polar night and severe frosts. That time a new aerial delivery system developed by the Design Bureau was used.

In 1989, Stanislav Bliznyuk’s crew onboard the IL-76MD aircraft, performed the first flight and landing on the King George Island, located near the Soviet Antarctic Bellingshausen station. There, at the Chilean Air Force Air Base Rodolfo March Martin, was a runway that could take a heavy cargo aircraft.
The most difficult part was the landing on a snow-covered runway of 1265 meters long when Il-76MD, in such circumstances, required a runway of at least 1500 meters long. To reduce the path, the thrust reverse of two inboard engines was engaged at the time of touchdown, then the same was done on the two outboard engines - immediately after touching the ground on the run, the entire high-lift system was engaged, the side doors were opened to work as brake flaps, the pressure in all landing gear wheels was reduced.

The Arctic expedition was headed by a famous polar explorer, scientist and oceanographer, Hero of Soviet Union Artur Chilingarov and General Designer of “Ilyushin Aviation Complex” Nikolay Talikov (then Deputy Chief Designer of OJSC «Il»).

In August 1991, a crew under the command of Stanislav Bliznyuk on IL-76TD aircraft performed a unique expedition, the purpose of which was evacuation of polar explorers from Molodezhnaya station to Cape Town. Again, the expedition was led by Artur Chilingarov and Nikolai Talikov.

The most difficult part of the expedition, not including transportation of complex and unprepared cargo, was taking off from the station’s ice airfield. The total takeoff weight exceeded the permissible value for these conditions and amounted to 185 tons. In addition to the cargo, there were 197 people onboard the aircraft: the polar explorers from Molodezhnaya and Novolazarevskaya sations, technical crew of the aircraft, airfield shift team and a part of the crew from the Mikhail Somov research vessel ice-bound in Antarctica.

The role of Il aircraft in the Arctic and Antarctic exploration is difficult to overestimate, today they keep operating in the polar latitudes, performing cargoes transportation, coming to the rescue in case of an emergency in the Far North.

It was just IL-76TD which delivered a non-governmental expedition of Prince Harry of Wales to the Novolazarevskaya station in November 2013. The expedition included people with disabilities.

In November 2015, the joint crew under the command of Nikolai Kuimova, Chief Pilot of Ilyushin Aviation Complex, Hero of Russia and Ruben Yesayan, Chief Pilot of State Research Institute of Civil Aviation, Hero of the Russian successfully completed the first landing of IL-76TD-90VD aircraft on the ice airfield of Novolazarevskaya station in Antarctica. It was the first time when Il-76 equipped with PS-90A-76 engines landed on the ice.

So, the aforesaid says for the IL make aircraft will continue to serve the country in the exploration of the polar latitudes.