The third Western type in Aeroflot’s fleet (following A310s and 767-300s) was a single DC-10-30 freighter, with a payload of 72 tons, introduced in September 1995. She joined Aeroflot's IL-76 fleet operating from Europe to Asia and could be regularly seen carrying fresh Salmon between Oslo and Tokyo for example. This aircraft was originally delivered to Singapore Airlines as 9V-SDE but sold to VARIG only 7 months later where she became PP-VMZ. Purchased back by the manufacturer in 1992 she was leased to World Airways as N114WA in April 1992 and served with them until July 1993 when she was leased to Bangladesh Biman as S2-ADA. Following her return to MDD she was converted to a freighter with the US registration N524MD and joined Aeroflot.
Aeroflot had somewhat reluctantly ordered Russian made Ilyushin IL-96 passenger aircraft and also in 1996 made a follow on order for 20 larger foreign engined and avionics equipped Ilyushin IL-96M and IL-96Ts. Seventeen of the larger IL-96s were passenger M variants and three were the cargo oriented IL-96Ts. The new variants were to be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW2037 engines and Rockwell Collins Avionics. The Aeroflot aircraft were delayed by financial issues but in 2000 the US Eximbank loan secured on Russian sovereign guarantees committed to providing the $130 million for the three freighters, if not immediately the passenger aircraft. In July 2001 in a major blow to the programme Aeroflot pulled out of the deal citing that it had no need for the aircraft. The IL-96T, which featured a large cargo door and was capable of carrying 92 tons of cargo, had actually flown as early as 1997 and had received its US FAA certification in 1999 but had also been subject to many delays.
Interestingly despite Aeroflot's statement around not needing the extra freighters when N524MD was withdrawn in 2004 she was replaced - by four ex-Japan Airlines DC-10-40Fs suggesting that Aeroflot's issues with the IL-96T were more in relation to its economics. The series 40Fs served until 2009 operating services from Germany to Seoul and Beijing through Russia. Aeroflot's stance was doubly ironic as the IL-76 was banned from European airspace after April 2002 for not meeting noise regulations and at the time Aeroflot still operated 12 IL-76TDs. There had however been a major shift up till then away from dedicated freight operations in favour of belly cargo in passenger services, which by February 2001 accounted for 60% of Aeroflot's cargo volume.
Below the DC-10-40s wore a modified livery:
N524MD joined Arrow Air in 2004 keeping her US registration. She was stored at Opa Locka in 2007 and was broken up in May 2012. Aeroflot itself expanded its cargo operations building a freight hub at Frankfurt Hahn (flying via Russia to Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing) and spinning off its all-freighter arm to a separate company, Aeroflot Cargo, in 2006. In fact cargo operations expanded by over 30% in 2004 largely due to the more efficient equipment in use and Aeroflot Cargo went on to replace its DC-10s with MD-11s in 2008.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: