10/21/1966: Maiden Flight of the Yak-40

10/21/1966: Maiden Flight of the Yak-40

DALLAS — Today in Aviation, the prototype of the Yakovlev trijet Yak-40 took to the air for the first time in 1966. It would be produced until 1981.

The type’s brainchild was the JSC A.S. Yakovlev Design Bureau, a Russian aircraft designer and manufacturer founded by Soviet aeronautical engineer Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev in 1934. However, some date the birth of the design outlet to May 12, 1927, the day of the maiden flight of the AIR-1.

The Yak-40 had been developed after a request was made by the Russian state carrier Aeroflot (SU) for a replacement for its aging piston-engined aircraft. The new model would need to operate safely out of poorly equipped airfields with short, unpaved runways.

During WWII, Yakovlev produced a number of military aircraft with similar specifications. Various designs were looked at, including vertical take-off and landing types, powered by both turboprop and jet engines.

Bucket thrust reverser on the center engine. Photo: By Pavel Adzhigildaev, CC BY-SA 3.0

Final Design

A low-wing, large T-tail aircraft with a short, pressurized fuselage was the final design. Three Ivchenko AI-25 engines, mounted at the rear of the fuselage, powered the jet. A maximum of 32 passengers could be carried in a four-abreast seating arrangement. However, standard seating saw between 24 and 27 passengers in a three-abreast configuration.

Production began in 1967 at the Saratov Aviation Plant, and certification in Russia was granted a year later. The airliner later became the first Soviet-built aircraft to be granted airworthiness certificates in the Western world, including West Germany and Italy.

Aeroflot placed the type into revenue service on September 30, 1968. By 1980, the Yak-40 was operating 276 domestic airports across Russia. In December 1980, the carrier became the launch customer for the upgraded and stretched Yak-42.

In April 2004, aircraft manufacturer Irkut acquired Yakovlev. As of July 2019, a total of 22 out of 1011 Yakovlev Yak-40 aircraft remained in service with civil operators.

Rear view of the aircraft, showing the rear integrated airstairs. Photo: By Aleksander Markin, Yak-40 RA-87500, CC BY-SA 2.0

Feature image: Yak-40 Dvurekov-1. Photo: By Igor Dvurekov, commons Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

European Deputy Editor
Writer and aviation fanatic, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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