Friday, October 17, 2014

Heavy Lift Air Freight Specialist Joins Battle Against Ebola

Meanwhile Russian Cargo Carrying Group Expands Operations
Shipping News Feature

RUSSIA – SIERRA LEONE – UAE – Earlier this week, heavy lift air freight specialist Volga-Dnepr Airlines transported three Mi-8 helicopters from Moscow, Russia to Freetown, Sierra Leone, which will be used to support the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), which was established in late September to help fight the outbreak of the Ebola virus in western Africa.

Using one of its An-124 ‘Ruslan’ freighters, Volga-Dnepr’s applied a loading plan specially developed for the carriage of rotor-wing machines to load the helicopters into the cargo hold. This involved demounting lifting and tail propellers, vibration absorbers, fuel tanks, and removing fluids from the shock struts and wheels. This reduced the height of the helicopters enabling them to be loaded onboard the An-124 alongside the demounted equipment.

The Ebola virus has so far penetrated Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal and claimed more than 4,500 lives. Many international organisations, including the UN, are providing financial and people resources to help stop the spread of the virus in the countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak. UNMEER’s priority mission is to stop the epidemic, cure infected people, supply disease areas with all necessary medical services, stabilise the situation and prevent future outbreaks.

To reinforce Volga-Dnepr operations in the Middle East meanwhile the company subsidiary Volga-Dnepr Gulf (VD Gulf), which has operated in the region since 1996, has been awarded an EASA Part-145 aircraft maintenance certificate after meeting all of the procedures required by the European Aviation Safety Agency to perform maintenance services on western-built aircraft at its Sharjah Airport base where it has a new 22,000m² ultra-modern hangar complex with the capacity to conduct maintenance work on six narrow-body or two wide-body Boeing 747 or An-124-100 aircraft at the same time.

The EASA Part-145 certificate allows VD Gulf to perform line maintenance for Boeing 737 CL and NG, Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A320 family aircraft, as well as component repair services for С4, С5, С8, С14, С20 ratings and D1 non-destructive checks. VD Gulf also plans to extend the ratings of its EASA/GCAA certificates for Boeing 747 and Boeing 737 NG aircraft up to the C-check maintenance level. Victor Sherin, Managing Director of Volga-Dnepr Gulf, said:

“I congratulate our VD Gulf team on enabling us to meet the standards required to gain EASA Part-145 certification. This further confirms our capability to work to the highest international MRO standards. Now we will focus on our next important objective of becoming a leader in the Middle East MRO market. Our modern maintenance station at Sharjah Airport, team of highly skilled professionals, and optimised processes and partnerships mean we are strongly positioned to achieve our goal.”

Another group subsidiary, AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), and Russia’s largest cargo airline, recently celebrated the delivery of its next brand new 747-8 Freighter. The new 747-8 Freighter gives cargo operators the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large freighter airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance. It is optimised to provide greater revenue cargo-carrying capability than the 747-400, offering 16% more cargo volume while keeping its iconic nose door. The new plane means ABC’s fleet now consists of total 13 Boeing 747s, including six Boeing 747-8 Freighters, four Boeing 747-400ERFs (Extended Range Freighters), three Boeing 747-400 Freighters.

AirBridgeCargo continues to follow its long-term fleet modernisation strategy with a target to serve clients with the most sophisticated equipment. The new aircraft will be used on ABC’s existing route network linking Europe, Asia and the United States via the airline’s hub in Moscow. As from October 17, the new aircraft will join the ABC's weekly schedule, just on time to provide the market and customers with additional capacity during the upcoming cargo season.

Photo: Inside the giant VD Gulf hangar at Sharjah.