Iliuszyn Ił-62, Ił-62 M. 1972.

Kraków 2009-06-15


229b Section 21.03.1972 year.

OKB Iliuszyn Ił-62 / Ił-62 M in Poland.

Iliuszyn The Ił-62 is a passenger and transport aircraft used by LOT Polish Airlines in the 70/80 years. The aircraft was built at OKB Iliuszyn by illegally copying the British Vickers VC-10 aircraft. The Iliuszyn Ił-62 plane has never been in the state of the Polish Military Aviation, but it has performed flights for the Polish Army. Its very large range predestined it for long non-stop flights, carrying, among other things, weapons.

We will not find the Ił-62 aircraft in the Polish Museums, but there is a model of it in the Polish Aviation Museum. 2009 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
We will not find the Ił-62 aircraft in the Polish Museums, but there is a model of it in the Polish Aviation Museum. 2009 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

The genesis of Ił-62 / M.

We will probably never know what really happened with the development of the Il-62 aircraft. Although the plane was built at OKB Iliuszyn, it is very similar to the British transport plane Vickers VC-10 (later BAC VC-10). The VC-10 aircraft made its first flight in 1962, has a span of 44.50 m, length 48.40 m, empty weight 67,100 kg, total weight 141,500 kg, maximum speed 919 km / h, range 6,680 - 8,328 km , the passenger variant takes 150 people on board. R-R Conway Rco-42 engines with a thrust of 4 x 93.40 kN (4 x 9 525 kG) were used for propulsion.

Vickers VC-10 drawing 1970. Photo of Vickers
Vickers VC-10 drawing 1970. Photo of Vickers

It is very likely that the Russians gained access to the British aircraft's plans, either through intelligence or through covert purchases. It's no secret that Vickers was in financial trouble at the time. Recall that the UK decided to give up piloted planes and focused on missile weapons and submarines. So all British aviation companies had to run into trouble. Someone may ask the question - Then why the Il-62 is not an exact copy of the VC-10? It resulted from the necessity to adapt the structure to the existing machine park and applied technologies. Additionally, the only design office with free processing capacity was OKB Iliuszyna. OKB Antonowa worked on An-12/24/26 aircraft. OKB Tupolev worked on Tu-124/134 aircraft.

The first flight of the Il-62 was performed on 02/01/1963. The plane had TRD AL-7 PB engines installed. It was a variant of the engine used to power Su-7/9/11 combat aircraft. The captain of the crew was known and very experienced pilot W. K. Kokkinaki.

The first flight of the Il-62 with new TRDD NK-8-2 engines took place on April 24, 1964, and the crew commander was E. I. Kuznetsov. It was the second prototype. The third prototype flew into the air on July 28, 1965 and was a model for serial machines. The Il-62 was shown abroad for the first time at the International Aviation Show in Paris in 1965. On February 13, 1966, the first flight was made by a serial plane, and the crew commander was B. W. Mashkawtsev. State trials were completed in June 1967. The plane took 186 passengers on board. On October 8, 1967, the first regular voyages on the Moscow-Almaty route began. On May 31, 1968, test flights of the Il-62 aircraft with TRDD NK-8-4 engines began. Me was the pilots. I. Wiernikov and E. I. Kuznetsov.

On March 13, 1969, the first flight was made by the Il-62 M with TRDD D-30 KU engines, and the crew captain was Ja. I. Wiernikov. The plane received an additional fuel tank in the vertical tail. Thanks to new, more economical engines and more fuel, it has become possible to fly from Moscow to New York without stopping to collect fuel. Electronic equipment, luggage loading and evacuation systems were improved, and the wing structure was strengthened. The plane took a maximum of 192 passengers on board. In Kazan on February 15, 1972, the first flight was made by the serial Il-62 M, and the crew commander was B. W. Mashkavtsev. On January 8, 1974, the Il-62 M aircraft began regular passenger flights.

The Il-62 aircraft received the NATO "Classic" code for all Eastern military aircraft. The aircraft is the first Russian long-range airliner with a turbojet drive. The plane is an all-metal, semi-shell structure. It received oblique wings with a slant angle of 32.5 degrees.

The first opinions of Russian pilots and passengers, accustomed to Spartan types of aircraft, were enthusiastic. You should know that at that time the Tu-134 was also built, which was to match the standards of machines from the West. It was similar with the comfort in Il-62. The plane on board (depending on the configuration of cabins and seats) took from 168 to 195 passengers. The crew consisted of five airmen plus cabin crew.

As for safety, the plane could continue its flight on two engines, and even repeat the landing approach if two engines were damaged. And it was possible, provided that the other systems, especially the control system, were operational.

Il-62 aircraft were used in the passenger aviation of CCCP / Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Cuba and Hungary. Production ended in 1993. After 1989, these planes disappeared from the aviation of most countries. Currently, they are operated in countries created after the collapse of the CCCP, as well as in Cuba and North Korea. A total of 257 machines were built. In 2009, 25 copies remained in service.

Ił-62 planes at LOT Polish Airlines.

In socialist Poland in 1970, there were unrest and social unrest, especially in the Gdańsk Coast. Power was taken over by a new party team with the First Secretary of the PZPR, Edward Gierek. Poland has partially opened up to the world. It's been 25 years since the Second World War. Polish emigrants more and more often wanted to visit their homeland, and Poles living in the country wanted to visit their relatives across the Great Water. In this situation, the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party decided that LOT Polish Airlines would join the exclusive club of transatlantic carriers.

Today (2009) it seems that it was nothing special. If anyone thinks so, he is very wrong. It really was something extraordinary. Before Edward Gierek, the authorities in the People's Republic of Poland were exercised by Wiesław Gomułka. In his day, such a move was beyond mind. In his opinion, contacts with the capitalist world should be kept to a minimum. As for flights abroad, it only allowed flights to a few Western European capitals. Considering it too much luxury anyway. In his opinion, the purchase of Western-made machines for PLL LOT was unthinkable. No wonder then that the Boeing 707 or DC-8 sales offers, which at that time dominated the Atlantic, landed in the basket.

In 1972, Poland decided to buy the first long-haul aircraft. Political conditions pointed only to the only offer, which was the Il-62 plane from OKB Iliuszyn, still managed by the already aged Sergei W. Iliuszin.

Il-62 SP-LAA Nicolaus Copernicus. 1973. Photo of the Okęcie Airport
Il-62 SP-LAA Nicolaus Copernicus. 1973. Photo of the Okęcie Airport

In March 1972, the first Il-62 SP-LAA Mikołaj Kopernik was delivered to Poland. Several months of training for the crew of new aircraft were transferred to the CCCP. They were conducted at the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. The Ił-62 aircraft were introduced to the PLL LOT fleet in 1972, thus enabling the launch of transoceanic connections. In total, 7 Il-62 planes were incorporated into the PLL LOT fleet. All these planes were named after famous Poles:

  • SP-LAA (No. 11004) Nicolaus Copernicus.
  • SP-LAB (No. 21105) Tadeusz Kościuszko.
  • SP-LAC (No. 31401) Fryderyk Chopin.
  • SP-LAD (No. 41604) Kazimierz Pulaski.
  • SP-LAE (No. 41802) Henryk Sienkiewicz.
  • SP-LAF (No. 62204) Adam Mickiewicz.
  • SP-LAG (No. 2725456) Maria Skłodowska-Curie.

The first Il-62 flight from Warsaw to New York was made on April 16, 1973.

The baptism of the Polish Ił-62 SP-LAA Nicolaus Copernicus took place on April 16, 1973, when he went from Warsaw to New York with a full set of passengers. At this point, it must be written that there would be no such success if it were not for the more liberal passport policy of the Polish People's Republic authorities, which allowed LOT Polish Airlines to open further transcontinental connections. The network of charter flights began to develop.

The Il-62 plane made a good impression. Everyone liked this machine. The crews of these planes were the elite among the personnel flying in LOT Polish Airlines. Everyone remembered fondly the receptions at major airports in the world, which have now become available to Poland. The landing of the Il-62 from Poland has always aroused interest. He stood out in the company of bulky Boeing's with his characteristic beauty. The machine looked modern. It was handled well.

The Polish Il-62 performed not only ordinary flights with passengers. These aircraft also participated in the operations of the Polish Special Services. The course of some flights under special supervision during which weapons were carried on board the Il-62 could be a scenario for more than one sensational film.

But the IL-62 also had its drawbacks. Its radio navigation equipment was inferior to Western standards at the beginning of the 70s. LOT Polish Airlines dealt with this problem by purchasing US-made radio navigation devices for SP-LAA Mikołaj Kopernik. Of course, the Russians were very dissatisfied with this fact. The aircraft control system was not duplicated. The duplicate system allows you to pilot the plane after a failure on one of the systems, which obviously increases safety. Such an arrangement was already required by international regulations in those years. But the Russian designers found duplication unnecessary. We wrote about the problems with the powertrain and the control system in the articles about the SP-LAA and SP-LBG disasters.

In 1976, the first voyage to the Far East took place to Bankok via Mumbai. By 1979, Il-62 aircraft regularly flew to Kuwait, Tripoli and Algiers. There were also charter flights to Australia and Japan.

In 1978, visual artists Roman Duszek and Andrzej Zbrożek developed a new graphic design for LOT Polish Airlines planes: the fuselage painted white, in the front part there is a large, italicized lettering tilted to the right, a navy blue word LOT combined with a navy blue stripe running along hull. A crane and a Polish flag were placed on the vertical tail. The change of the look of PLL LOT planes was related to the 50th anniversary of the national carrier, celebrated in 1979.

The disaster of the SP-LAA Nicolaus Copernicus on March 14, 1980.

The good streak of the Polish Ił-62 ended on March 14, 1980, with the disaster of the SP-LAA Mikołaj Kopernik. The plane was returning from New York, piloted by Captain Paweł Lipowczan. The flight was smooth almost until the last moment. Just before the planned landing, the pilot noticed that the light indicating the landing gear extension did not light up on the control panel and informed the control tower about it. The procedure applicable in such cases was that the plane should pass over the airport so that it could be determined whether the problem was caused by, for example, a burnout of a light bulb or a real problem with the landing gear. To do this, the pilot had to lift the plane to a height of 650 m, increasing the thrust of the engines. But one of the engines failed, damaging the next two and the control system. The crew fought bravely until the very end, but with only one engine and only ailerons in the control system, they had no chance. The plane crashed to the ground, hitting at a speed of about 380 km / h a dozen centimeters of ice that covered a moat in a 19th-century military fort, about 100 meters from Aleja Krakowska, which was the main exit route from Warsaw towards Krakow, and about 950 meters from beginning of the runway. The entire crew and all passengers of the plane died in the crash, 87 people in total. Honor their memory !

The entire catastrophe is described in a separate Section.

Il-62 M in PLL LOT.

Polish aviation experts did their best to prevent further tragedies. After the SP-LAA crash, a detailed examination of the wreckage of the crashed plane was made and a report was prepared, which clearly showed that the Il-62 engines were a normal bum, they were badly repaired. This report was submitted to the Russian side. The latter, however, recognized that the Il-62 did not have any design flaws and did not require any corrections. In the political situation at that time, the only thing that PLL LOT could do was replace the Il-62 with their improved versions, Il-62 M. The latter differed from the Il-62 used earlier in that they had different, slightly more powerful engines and an additional fuel tank in the vertical stabilizer.

After the modernized Il-62 M version was put into production, the previously operated aircraft were replaced with the new version, leaving the Russian side in the settlement of the older Il-62 aircraft. A total of 9 machines in the modernized Ił-62 M version have been incorporated into the LOT Polish Airlines fleet:

  • SP-LBA (No. 2932526) Juliusz Słowacki.
  • SP-LBB (No. 1034152) Ignacy Paderewski.
  • SP-LBC (No. 3036253) Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski.
  • SP-LBD (No. 1138234) Gen. Władysław Sikorski.
  • SP-LBE (No. 1138546) Stanisław Moniuszko.
  • SP-LBF (No. 2343554) Fryderyk Chopin.
  • SP-LBG (No. 3344942) Tadeusz Kościuszko.
  • SP-LBH (No. 1748445).
  • SP-LBI (No. 4831739).

The naming and baptism of the plane was always very solemn. For example, the Il-62 M SP-LBD was baptized on July 2, 1981, and the godfather was Captain Klemens Długoszewski, the doyen of Polish civil aviation. The ceremony was included in the celebration of the 100th birthday of General Władysław Sikorski. It was organized under the patronage of the Polish People's Army and with the participation of the Kompania of Honor. A commemorative medal with the image of the General was also struck.

On December 13, 1981, the team of general Wojciech Jaruzelski introduced martial law in Poland, leading, among other things, to a complete suspension of foreign flights. The interruption in long-distance flights lasted over two years. It was not until 1984 that charter flights to New York and Chicago resumed. Regular flights on these routes were reintroduced on April 28, 1985.

Only a few remember that on November 24, 1984, the Ił-62 M SP-LBD Władysław Sikorski plane at 15:15 took off from Okęcie for a charter flight to Beijing, inaugurating the first air connection with China. The flight route was divided into two stages. The first Warsaw-Moscow, commanded by Captain Sławomir Michalski, lasted less than two hours. After an hour and a half stop with refueling, start. The second stage, commanded by captain Roman Dubiecki, lasted 7.5 hours. The plane landed in Beijing on November 25, 1984, at 01:50 Polish time (08:50 local time). The plane was brought to the performances by the Mazowsze National Song and Dance Ensemble, with 5,500 kg of costumes, musical instruments and sound equipment. The Chinese treated the team like a VIP. After 4.5 hours of parking and 117 new passengers taking their seats, the plane under the command of Captain Zbigniew Januszkiewicz took off to Moscow. After 9 hours of flight, due to the headwind, he landed in Moscow. Captain Sławomir Michalski was in command from Moscow to Warsaw. On November 25, 1984, at 19:30, the plane landed at Okęcie. The Warsaw - Beijing - Warsaw flight took 28 hours and 15 minutes with stops, and the plane covered 16,770 km. On March 20, 1987, an agreement was signed between the People's Republic of Poland and the PRC for the launch of a permanent air connection, which was inaugurated on March 30, 1987. This gave PLL LOT further kilometers of permanent connections, which at that time amounted to a total of 96,313 km. In Beijing, we became the 15th airline company.

In 1985, Il-62 M planes began reaching New Delhi.

The disaster of SP-LBG Tadeusz Kościuszko on May 9, 1987.

Unfortunately, the replacement of the entire fleet of Ił-62 with Ił-62 M did not save us from the next, the largest plane crash in Poland. On May 9, 1987, Tadeusz Kościuszko Ił-62 M SP-LBG took off from Okęcie to fly to New York. The crew captain was Zygmunt Pawlaczyk. After 23 minutes of flight, when the plane was at an altitude of 8,200 m above Grudziądz, engine No. 2 failed. flight attendants' rooms, causing decompression and causing a fire in the hold. The captain tried to bring the machine on two engines to Okęcie. It was a 32-minute race to death. At 11.12am, the plane crashed into tall trees, 30 meters from the southern edge of the Kabacki Forest and at the same time the border of Warsaw. Fuel exploded, violent fire broke out. 183 people were killed, all on board the plane. Honor their memory !

The entire catastrophe is described in a separate Section.

What's next ?

On the one hand, the introduction of the Il-62 / Il-62 M aircraft made it possible to launch new, previously unavailable connections, but design and material errors contributed to two tragic disasters. The SP-LAA Mikołaj Kopernik plane crashed on March 14, 1980 and the SP-LBG Tadeusz Kościuszko plane crashed on May 9, 1987. These were the two most tragic air crashes in Poland. Il-62 M planes gained a bad reputation. It was not unfounded. Not everything went public at the time. Among the 100 largest air crashes (until 2005), the Polish Il-62 M disaster was ranked 34th. This list also included 4 Il-62 M disasters (44th place on the Havana list 1989. 53. Krasnaja Polana 1972. 57. Konigs Wusterhausen 1972. 91. Sverdlovsk 1967). In total, 12-14 Il-62 / M planes were lost in the catastrophes. Today we know that out of the 80 Il-62 aircraft built, as much as 25% suffered accidents and catastrophes. According to other data, 275 copies of Il-62 / M were built, and 14 machines crashed, burying over 1,000 people. In the history of passenger aviation, there has been no other machine whose operation would be burdened with such a balance. What is worse, only one Ił-62 catastrophe was caused by an obvious pilot error. In 1972, a burning Il-62 flew over Moscow into a cloud of fuel it was dumping, killing 176 people.

In 1987, the public of the Republic of Poland was embittered. We were furious. There was even a snappy slogan - "Fly the Il, you will be dust". Public opinion was pressing and the authorities rose to the occasion. Flights of planes with the highest raids have been partially suspended. New control procedures have been introduced. For the operation of the Atlantic routes, the American DC-8 was borrowed for one year, which we wrote about in a separate section.

Although the Il-62 and Il-62 M engines had completely different engines, the causes of both disasters were identical. They exposed the low quality of the materials used, failure to comply with technological regimes, and above all, design errors. The turbine shafts were faulty in both cases. Not only are they made of poor material, they are assembled so that they wear out quickly. In addition, in SP-LAA, one of the shafts was cut during the renovation in CCCP, making it even more vulnerable to destruction. This dangerous alteration was only discovered when examining the plane's wreckage. But inappropriate; turbine shafts, turbine rim discs are not all. Some say that the pairing of the engines was also the cause. In our opinion, it was not a defect. Combining motors is a common solution. But one should separate one engine from another with partitions, even fireproof ones. The bigger problem was the lack of a duplicate control system. In both cases, the pilots were left with only ailerons.

1988 year.

Due to political conditions, it was not possible to change the aircraft supplier. Therefore, technical and operational changes were made to the machines operated by PLL LOT to increase the level of safety. The changes included: Duplication of the aircraft control system that ran along the back of the aircraft. The use of advanced vibration detection system for the motor shaft. The use of flame retardant materials in the luggage compartment. The use of smoke alarms in the luggage hatch (instead of the fire alarm), which quickly warns of possible dangers. Laboratory check of engine oil after each flight.

LOT Polish Airlines has done a lot to regain the trust of Polish and foreign passengers, and above all the management boards of large foreign airports. A tremendous amount of work has been done.

Among many new elements, OKL, i.e. Objective Flight Control, was introduced. For some of the flying personnel, it became an electronic police force that picked up crew errors without mercy. For the rest, it was a guarantee of safety and an objective assessment of skills and help in raising professionalism.

The system was as follows. Data on crew activities were recorded on two recorders. The first recorder is a typical black box, the second is a recorder working for the needs of OKL. It was equipped with removable tapes with easy access to information. The latest such recorders already had an electronic memory based on a removable recording cassette, which allowed for quick data processing. In older recorders, the data recorded on a removable tape had to be first read onto the hard disk, which extends the analysis time. Now the flight data was compared with the model data stored on the computer's hard drive. For example, the speed at which the flaps were opened to 15 degrees. You can see immediately if they were released at the right speed. If not, the computer immediately calculated the exceedance value, which was usually a minor error. This does not mean that even the minimal excess was stigmatized. The value of the exceedance is important, and most importantly, whether there is any violation of the pilot rules, which could compromise safety. The IT specialist submits the obtained results with the exceedances underlined to the flying methodology section. It was here that a person was to draw objective conclusions, thanks to which the evaluation was not devoid of humanism. The OKL intercepted events that the crew could not notice (altimeter damage, excessive engine exhaust gas temperature) or which the crew did not want to report (for various reasons), for example a hard landing, after which the machine should undergo an appropriate inspection.

The Il-62 M has been equipped with MSRP-64 digital recorders that can record over 64 parameters on 64 channels. The remaining planes also received the MSRP-64, and the smaller (An-24) MSRP-12 with analog recording. This system was pioneering in the world. Even the Boeing 767 introduced into PLL LOT did not have such equipment. It was equipped with a factory emergency recorder, with the possibility of reading only after playing the tape. That is why LOT Polish Airlines has additionally equipped the Boeing 767 with a TTM device with a replaceable cassette. The creator of the system was dr inż. Pilot Henryk Krasowski with the help of dr inż. Pilot Tomasz Smolicz. The system began to function in 1988, during the Warsaw-Montreal flight, and was rated very highly by IATA.

In 1988, LOT Polish Airlines, rebuilding trust, launched 4 new connections; Warsaw-Singapore (the longest route), Warsaw-Barcelona, ​​Krakow-Cologne and Krakow-London.

The determination of the LOT Polish Airlines authorities and, in the end, the support of Prime Minister Mieczysław Rakowski, led to the decision that the plane for LOT Polish Airlines would be a Boeing 767. Within a few days, the first crews flew to Seattle to train on yet unknown machines. The first Polish Boeing 767 - designated as SP-LOA Gniezno landed at Okęcie in April 1989, that is before the first relatively free elections to the Sejm, not the People's Republic of Poland, but again the Republic of Poland. But the Boeing 767 is a story for itself.

But the Il-62 M planes could not be simply thrown away. As the pilot Waldemar Kwiatkowski, who used to fly the Ił-62 for the first time, said (the same pilot who took the Holy Father John Paul II to Rome for the first time) - "There has been a situation that the Ił-62 M, returning to the Ił-62 M flights after the repair quarantine, were almost like that sensationally equipped, like the transport unit of Mikhail Gorbachev ”.

With the mood prevailing at the beginning of the 90s, however, no improvements could make the Il-62 M remain in the Polish air fleet for a long time. Even the British proposal to install the same engines on these aircraft as the English VC-10 did not help.

A storm broke out against the Il-62 M. The fact that the management of PLL LOT did not like these machines is evidenced by the fact that the promotion office of this company instructed photojournalists and TV crews on every occasion that only American planes can photograph and film from all airplanes in the colors of LOT. It was the time when we should return to the free world and free ourselves from an unwanted marriage. And so, in the end, LOT Polish Airlines got rid of the Il-62 M. All six owned machines were sold to Ukraine. The last one flew from Warsaw to Kiev on February 5, 1992. Perhaps we contributed to this interest, but the safety of passengers and the prestige of the national carrier was the most important.

The era of Ił-62 / M in the Polish aviation has come to an end. Is it worth regretting these machines? Hard to say. They had, after all, advantages: they were fast, comfortable, and finally nice. On the other hand, when thinking about these planes, it is impossible to forget about the disasters. All this, however, cannot obscure the fact that the Il-62 / M was the most important aircraft in the history of Polish Airlines. Thanks to these machines, Poland looked into the free world. Distances decreased.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman