Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Giant Cargo Plane Will Carry Freight Into The Future

Biggest Ever Freighter to be Re-launched
Shipping News Feature

UKRAINE – RUSSIA - The Antonov AN-124 ‘Ruslan’ is a legend amongst the project freight forwarding community and many have openly wondered how certain consignments will be delivered in the future as the gigantic plane reaches its 29th Birthday this year. Now the Ukrainian Antonov Company are to join with the world’s largest commercial operator of AN-124-100 freighters, Volga-Dnepr Airlines in an ambitious scheme intended to re-launch serial production of the iconic cargo carrier.

Yesterday saw Dmytro Kiva, President and General Designer of Antonov, and Alexey Isaikin, President of Volga-Dnepr Group, sign three documents at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2011 in Moscow covering the decision to upgrade the first one of Volga-Dnepr’s fleet of ten AN-124-100 ‘Ruslan’ freighters to a modernised AN-124-111VD standard. The documents cover the decisions made regarding the specifications for the aircraft’s modernisation and the proposals for research and development of the new model.

The technical specifications in the agreement envisage that the modernised AN-124-111VD will have a take-off weight of 402 tons, a cargo lift capacity of 150 tons, a flight range of at least 5,000kms with a 120 tons payload and a minimum crew of three persons. Avionics and some of the aircraft systems will be replaced with digital systems. The aircraft will be equipped with new 3M series D-18T engines with the FADEC digital control system. The engine lifetime will be equal to 50,000 hours and 11,111 cycles. Environmental characteristics of the engines will be upgraded to meet international standards in accordance with emission levels stated in the ICAO Annex 16 volume 2 requirements. The AN-124-111VD will also comply with the noise requirements of ICAO Chapter 4 Annex 16.

Following the R & D phase it is envisaged that the AN-124-111VD lifetime will be expanded up to 60,000 flying hours and 12,000 typical flights, giving it a service life of up to 50 years. The refurbishment and development work which will be conducted during the modernisation of the first Volga-Dnepr Airlines aircraft will act as the main research and development programme for the eventual launch of production of a new-build AN-124-300 freighter.

The Antonov AN-124 ‘Ruslan’ is a one-of-a-kind ramp freighter aircraft that was designed for the USSR Ministry of Aviation Industry. The aircraft’s design leader was Kiev-based Antonov Aeronautical Scientific/Technical Complex (Antonov Design Bureau). The first AN-124 made its maiden flight on 24th December 1982. The aircraft went into series production at Aviastar Aircraft Factory in Ulyanovsk and the Aviant State Aircraft Factory in Kiev. Over 500 component suppliers and equipment manufacturers were involved in the aircraft's production cycle.

The AN-124 has established 21 world records, including for payload (lifting over 170 tons to 10,750 meters) and for the closed-circuit flight range (over 20,000 km). Initially designed as a military heavy transport, the AN-124 offers unmatched payload/range capabilities in the international air cargo market and is justifiably considered as one of the most successful worldwide air transport projects. It is the only airplane in the world capable of carrying single pieces of cargo weighing up to 150 tons and up to 36 meters in length.

To see more details of the achievements of the Antonov range simply type the name into the News Search Box at the head of this page.

Photo: Inside the Antonov - In the cargo compartment of a Volga-Dnepr AN-124-100, from left to right, are President and General Designer of Antonov Company, Dmytro Kiva, Flight Director of Volga-Dnepr Airlines, Vladimir Kozlov, and President of Volga-Dnepr Group, Alexey Isaikin.