January 6 - Moscow-based main deck air freight capacity provider Volga-Dnepr Airlines has added a fourth modernised IL-76TD-90VD cargo aircraft to its fleet.

The new freighter successfully completed its first commercial flight on December 31, 2011 from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport to Bahrain, before returning to Moscow.

The fourth new generation IL-76TD-90VD freighter (pictured below) was built to order at the Tashkent Chkalov Aviation Factory in accordance with a contract signed between UAC - Transport Aircraft and Volga-Dnepr-Leasing at the MAKS 2007 International Aerospace Show. The aircraft, assigned registration RA-76503, was deliveredfrom Tashkent to Ulyanovsk, Russia, in November to be painted in Volga-Dnepr Airlines' livery.

Dennis Gliznoutsa, vice president for sales, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, says: "The aircraft performs to an extremely high standard for airfreight transportation and is in high demand by our customers. The entry of the fourth IL-76TD-90VD into service facilitates our plans to gain a larger share of the cargo market for shipments in the up to 50 tonnes category of the international market [as] older versions of the aircraft are gradually being taken off the market."

One of the key benefits for the airline is the fact that the modernised version has a crew of only four, reduced from the Soviet-era manpower requirement.

"Volga-Dnepr Group will continue to implement the programme to grow its new IL-76 fleet. We expect to take delivery of our fifth IL-76TD-90VD in May 2012. It is currently being built at the Tashkent Chkalov Aviation Factory," says general director of Volga-Dnepr-Leasing, Andrey Pakhomov.