The Russians are coming!

The arrival of the giant Ilyushin Il-76MD of the Russian Air Force caused heads to turn at Versoix yesterday. When it takes off again, I suggest that you cover your ears!

Like many other people yesterday, 11 June, I was having lunch at the lakeside in Versoix yesterday when this large and very noisy aircraft came past on its way to land in Geneva. Like everyone else, I turned to look at it.

A subsequent check revealed that it was an Ilyushin 76 transport plane belonging to the 224th Flight Unit of the Russian Air Force. Not being a regular passenger flight, it did not figure on the airport arrivals board. However, I have no doubt that the local spotters were forewarned (though I have not yet seen any of their photos on the Web).

What was it carrying? The only suggestion that has been made to me is that it brought the Russian submarines which will be probing the base of Lake Geneva.

There were a couple of other similar aircraft that came to Geneva in 2010. One was owned by Transaviaexport, of Belarus; the other by Uzbekistan Airways.

Yesterday's aircraft, registered as RA-78818, was seen, and much photographed, at Zurich airport on 23 and 30 December2009. One of the photographers commented that "being near and seeing this heavy for the first time was simply for me the highlight of the day. Came to pickup the Prime Minister's limousines.". I don't recall why this might have been the case.

This aircraft is in the noisiest class of aircraft which are allowed to use Geneva airport: after hearing it I can accept that classification! Even when landing, the ARAG microphone in Versoix indicated that it was much noisier than any other aircraft yesterday, including ones which took off over Versoix: the wind changed to a bise late in the day and the runway direction changed to have planes take off over Versoix.

I hope that I won't be underneath it when it takes off again!


11:25 Posted in Unusual aircraft | Permalink | Comments (5) | Tags: ilyushin, geneva, airport | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Usually when russian are using this aircraft for Swiss destination, it is for gold transportation, in the past communist times, gold was coming from ussr to Zürich and some in Geneva, in our days, it should be the other way round !

Since few months, russians are sending back home as much goods as they can, bad signs ? Yes !

Posted by: Corto | 06/13/2011


Somewhat long on surmise, but short on actual proven details! I find it hard to imagine why a very large air force cargo aircraft should be used for gold (how much could it carry?).

Posted by: Mike Gerard | 06/13/2011

Before 91, an Ilyushin landed in Zurich, following that landing the tarmac was broken, the Swiss airport maintenance worked day and night to fix the tarmac, don't you remember ?

This aircraft was abnormally heavy, also during communist governance, russians smuggled over 10'000 tonnes of gold in Switzerland !

The ruble was not very much valuable ! ! !

Posted by: Corto | 06/13/2011

In 1991 I had a job full-time and had not started tracking aircraft! Do not know if it was exactly the same aircraft.

Posted by: Mike Gerard | 06/13/2011

For information, this evening, the night between the 14th and the 15th of June 2010, at 00:25 2 IL62 arrived on the ILS23 from BENOT arrival, and were on GVA_APP freq. Unfortunately i couldn't understand on witch gate they were parked..
You are right, at the beginning of the ILS, so the airplane is at 7000ft, it's very noisy! (and more and mare after midnight!)

thanks for more comments if there is ;)

Posted by: Biggo | 06/15/2011

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