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Conquering the Sky: 100 Years of Russian Civil Aviation

Conquering the Sky: 100 Years of Russian Civil Aviation

On February, 2023, it is the 100th anniversary of Russian civil aviation. We propose to consider the chronology of the development of civil aircraft. The article is based on the material of the TASS news agency.


1913. The aircrafts “Russkiy vityaz” and “Ilya Muromets” created by aircraft designer Igor Sikorskiy marked the beginning of the development of multi-engine aviation. Biplane “Ilya Muromets” become the world’s first aircraft with electric lighting, heating, bedroom and toilet.

May 1, 1922. The opening of the first international airline – Moscow- Konigsberg took place. For the first time, mail was sent from the German city to Moscow by air, before that it was delivered by railroad.


And already on May 10, 1922, with the help of the Russian-German air communications society “Deruluft”, the first flight with passengers took place. The first private passengers were the poet Sergei Yesenin and the dancer Isadora Duncan, who went on a honeymoon. And the Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote the poem “Moscow-Konigsberg” after his trip on July 3, 1923.

1923. The official date of birth of the civil aviation of the USSR. The resolution of the Labor and Defense Council “On the assignment of technical supervision of air lines to the Main Directorate of the Air Fleet and on the organization of the Civil Aviation Council” was adopted.

This year also, Aeroflot's predecessor, “Dobrolet”, was created.

Another significant event of 1923 is the first inner regular airline Moscow – Nizhniy Novgorod. 

1924. Tests of the first Soviet all-metal three-seat ANT-2 aircraft, created at the Tupolev Experimental Design Bureau, have begun.


1925. According to the project of Nikolai Polikarpov, a wooden five-seat PM-1 was built. The plane flew on the route Moscow-Leningrad and Moscow-Berlin.   

1929. The ANT-9, the first Soviet three–engine multi-seat aircraft, has been tested. 

In the same year, a flight from the USSR to the USA was made, the peculiarity of which consisted in the range and complexity. The distance is 21,242 km. Flight time is 141 hours and 45 minutes. 

1930. The first data on passenger turnover are beginning to appear, which is calculated as the product of the number of passengers by the distance of transportation (pcm).

1931. The first passenger terminal in the Soviet Union has been opened on the territory of the main Moscow airfield on Hodynka Field.

1932. The Main Directorate of the Civil Air Fleet (GU GVF) was formed. Later, the official name of Soviet civil aviation was established – “Aeroflot”.

By 1935, Soviet-made aircraft made up 100% of the country's air fleet.

1937. The first non-stop flight on the ANT–25 plane on the USSR – USA route through the North Pole. 

In 1939, the first flight attendant, a 20-year-old Muscovite Elsa Gorodetskaya, appeared on the Moscow-Ashgabat flight. 

In 1941, Vnukovo International Airport was opened.


1947. An exploitation of operation of a piston aircraft Il-12 – the first Soviet passenger airplane for mass transportation, developed under the leadership of S. V. Ilyushin. Passenger capacity up to 32 people.

1948. Start of exploitation of the multifunctional aircraft An-2 of O.K.Antonov construction. It was used for passenger’s transportation and maintenance of polar explorers in Arctic and Antarctic, as well as agricultural works.

1956. The first flight of jet liner Tu-104 from Moscow to Irkutsk. Flight duration was 7 hours 10 minutes.

1957. Tu-114 is the largest in the world speed passenger’s liner. Could distribute up to 200 people on the aircraft. Tu-114 aircraft recorded 32 world’s achievements.

1959. The IL-18 aircraft with four turboprop engines began flights. The most comfortable aircraft of that time with a boost and air conditioning system and a buffet kitchen.

In 1960 was opened an international airport Sheremetyevo.


1964. Moscow Domodedovo Airport has started functioning.

1965. For the first time, the world's largest transport aircraft of that time, the AN-22 “Antey”, took to the sky. It could accommodate up to 720 people.

In 1967, the Tu-114 was replaced by the Il-62 long-haul jet aircraft with tail placement of engines.


1968 is the year, when Tu-154 made its first flight the most massive airplane of the Soviet production.

1970. Entrance of the USSR to the members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). “Aeroflot” appeared on the international arena. His crew flew to 59 countries of the world.

1976. The first test flights of a new generation of aircraft have passed: the wide-body 350-seat Il-86 airliner (airbus) and the 120-seat Yak-42.


1977. A new era in civil aviation started from the first supersonic passenger aircraft Tu-144 flights in the world. 

1980. “Aeroflot” is the official carrier of the Olympic Games.


In 1988  the first Duty Free Store  was opened in the USSR in the Sheremetyevo Airport.

The same year started to test the largest and lifting aircraft in the world aviation. Its main purpose was the transportation of the “Buran” spacecraft and the blocks of the “Energiya” launch vehicle.

1992. The first foreign–made airliners, the “A-310 Airbuses”, arrived in Sheremetyevo.

1993. IL-96 is designed for 300 passengers. It has entered the history of world civil aviation as the safest passenger aircraft.

2004. The Federal Air Transport Agency “Rosaviation” was formed.

2011. The airline received a “Sukhoi Superjet-100”. The first aircraft developed in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

2014. The first budget carrier, “Pobeda” Airlines, has started its work.

In 2017, the USSR record for passenger turnover in 1990 was broken — 243.8 pcm.

2020. The first flight of the promising medium-haul aircraft MS-21-310, equipped with the latest Russian-made PD-14 engines.


Here are the names of legendary aircraft designers whose contribution to the development of Russian aviation is unique.

Igor Sikorsky (1889-1972) was one of the first aircraft designers, the creator of heavy aircraft “Russkiy Vityaz” and “Ilya Muromets”. Since 1919, he has lived and worked in the USA. Since 1939, switched to designing helicopters.

Andrei Tupolev (1888-1972) was an aircraft designer, under whose leadership were designed more than 100 types of aircrafts. On Tupolev planes have been set 78 world records and 30 outstanding fights have been made.

Nikolai Polikarpov (1892-1944) was an aircraft designer and the founder of Soviet fighter aircraft. He has developed more than 80 aircraft of various types.

Sergey Ilyushin (1894-1977) – aircraft designer. Under his leadership, many types of attack aircraft, bombers and passenger planes were created.

Oleg Antonov (1906-1984) was an aircraft designer, who created diverse aircraft: 52 types of gliders and 22 types of aircrafts. 

Alexander Yakovlev (1906-1989) – aircraft designer. Applied his hand to the creation of more than 100 series types and modifications of aircrafts.


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