Kim Jong-un's Soviet-era Ilyushin-62M plane set to fly him from North Korea to Singapore

  09 June 2018    Read: 1538
Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un's trip to Singapore marks a rare occasion the North Korean leader is heading overseas.

Following a family tradition, Mr Kim is known to use a special armoured train for travel.

But of course that's not an option for getting to the island-state of Singapore.

So just how will Mr Kim make the big trip? A plane of course!

Does Kim Jong-un have a plane?

Mr Kim made his first international trip by air since becoming leader in 2011 when he visited China last month for a meeting with Xi Jinping.

He flew on his personal Ilyushin-62M jet, named Chammae-1 after the country's national bird, the Goshawk. An Ilyushin cargo plane was also part of trip.

It seems this will also be his transport of choice to get to Singapore.

What is an Ilyushin-62M?

The on-again, off-again summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the US President appears to be back on track — at least for now.

It's a Soviet-era airliner first conceived in Russia in the 1960s, with the last ones produced in the mid-1990s.

It was said to be the world's biggest jet airliner when it was first flown in 1963.

It's just over 50 metres long and as a passenger plane could carry nearly 200 passengers.

But there are now very few left in service around the world.

Can such an old plane make it to Singapore?

There is speculation Singapore was more favoured for the summit over, say, Geneva because of fears the North Korean delegation would have trouble getting themselves that far.

The Ilyushin-62M has a range of about 10,000 kilometres, which puts Singapore safely within non-stop flying distance.

But there have been questions about the mechanical reliability and absence of advanced communications systems typical of modern planes.

And Mr Kim's cargo plane, carrying things like his limousine, can't fly as far with a full load and might need to stop for refuelling along the way.

Who else flies these old Soviet-era planes?

North Korea's national carrier Air Koryo is among very few operators to still have Ilyushin Il-62 jets in service.

And the airline doesn't exactly have a glowing reputation.

In 2016, Skytrax rated Air Koryo the world's worst airline, based on the quality of their products and services.

Among the downsides, it supposedly only serves one dish: the "mysterious Koryo burger", which has developed a cult following.

Some reports say Mr Kim's plane is crewed by Air Koryo staff.

But there's no chance he'll put up with what has been considered among the world's worst burgers.

How does Kim's plane compare to Air Force One?

Donald Trump will of course be jetting into Singapore on the highly secure and luxurious Air Force One.

The custom-built Boeing 747 has a presidential suite, medical facilities, restaurant-style kitchen and various defence systems, among its many features.

It's safe to say Mr Kim's plane isn't on this scale. But the interior has at least been updated to give it a luxury, modern look.

And some have even labelled it a remodelled Air Force One.

If Kim doesn't normally fly, how else does he get around?

Well unlike his father, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un is actually a bit of a plane enthusiast.

He's been pictured in the cockpit of fighter jets and apparently "likes steering planes" when he can (though he's not a qualified pilot!).

And he should be no stranger to flying, having gone to school in Switzerland.

But the typical mode of transport is his "special" armoured green train.

He took this on his March trip to Beijing and it was a favoured transport option for his father, who famously hated flying.

Kim Jong-il, who had a penchant for a playboy lifestyle, is said to have decked the train out for lavish parties, bouts of heavy drinking and karaoke.

 

ABC


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