Volga-Dnepr Group and Antonov Commit to Modernisation of First An-124-1oo to New An-124-111vd Standard


Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Group and Antonov Company of the Ukraine have reached an agreement to upgrade the first one of Volga-Dnepr’s fleet of AN-124-100 ‘Ruslan’ freighters to a modernised AN-124-111VD standard in the latest step towards relaunching serial production of this unique cargo aircraft.

On August 17th 2011, Dmytro Kiva, President and General Designer of Antonov, and Alexey Isaikin, President of Volga-Dnepr Group, signed three documents at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2011 in Moscow covering the decision on aircraft modernization, the specifications of requirements for research and development and the cycle schedule for R&D.

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.

Ultimately, 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 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.

Volga-Dnepr Group is investing in the deep modernisation of the AN-124-100 ‘Ruslan’ based on the strategic market requirements for oversize and heavy cargo transportation. In doing so, the Group has also taken into consideration ICAO’s future requirements and the necessity to upgrade the operating performance characteristics of the aircraft.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines is the world’s largest commercial operator of AN-124-100 freighters with a fleet of 10 aircraft.

Info on the AN-124 ‘Ruslan’:

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.

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