Range of 1970s Soviet Commercial Airplanes

Airline maps asks “did Aeroflot not have an aircraft that could fly nonstop from Moscow to Vladivostok in the 1970s?.” Because I’m that kind of nerd, I looked into it.

tl;dr: Only just barely.

The distance from Moscow (SVO) to Vladivostok (VVO) is just about 6425km (4,000mi). Russia’s pride, the Tu-144 (aka “Concordski”) could just barely make it: it’s published range is also just about 6,425km. After that, the selection of airplanes which Aeroflot had that could make the non-stop flight was pretty small. Only the IL-62, with a range of 10,000km, could do it.

Surprisingly, Aeroflot’s newest wide-body jet, the IL-86 couldn’t make it (3,100mi range, which seems curiously short; that’s barely trans-Atlantic range.) Nor could the workhorses, the Tu-154 or the Yak-42 make the flight non-stop.

On the other side of the Iron Curtain, by the mid-1970s, there were three airplanes that could consistently deliver: the then-still-Douglas DC-10-30 (1972, 10,600km range), the Lockheed L-1011 (1972, 7850km), and the Boeing 747 (1970, 8550km). Airbus was producing airplanes equivalent to the IL-86 at the time; not until 1985 and the A310-300 (9550km range) did Airbus make an airplane that could do SVO-VVO non-stop.

Note: This is published range. I don’t know how winds, routing, and reserve requirements would have affected needed range (or if the Wikipedia figures have the reserve requirements built in.)