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The Antonov An-124 Ruslan (Russian and Ukrainian: Антонов Ан-124 «Руслан») (NATO reporting name: Condor) was the largest airplane in production until the Antonov An-225 was built. During development it was known as the An-400 and An-40 in the West, and it flew for the first time in 1982. Civil certification was issued by the CIS Interstate Aviation Committee on 30 December 1992. Over forty are currently in service (26 civilian models with airlines and 10 firm orders as of August 2006) and 20 were in commercial use in 1998 in Russia, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and Libya.
Design and development
The An-124 was manufactured in parallel by two plants: the Russian company Aviastar-SP (ex. Ulyanovsk Aviation Industrial Complex) and by the Kyiv Aviation Plant AVIANT, in Ukraine. Series production ceased with the break up of the Soviet Union. The last five unfinished airframes left from the Soviet times were completed in 2001 (1), 2002 (1), and 2004 (3). While currently no An-124 are being produced, Russia and Ukraine have agreed to resume the production in the Q3 2008.
Physically, the An-124 is similar to the American Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, but has a 25% larger payload, and in lieu of the Galaxy's T-tail, the An-124 uses a conventional empennage, similar in design to that of the Boeing 747. An-124s have been used to carry locomotives, yachts, aircraft fuselages, and a variety of other oversized cargoes. The An-124 is able to kneel to allow easier front loading. Up to 150 tonnes of cargo can be carried in a military An-124: it can also carry 88 passengers in an upper deck behind the wing centre section. However, due to limited pressurization in the main cargo compartment (3.57 PSI) , it seldom carries paratroopers.
Since the type was initially designed for only occasional military use, original An-124s were built with a projected service life of 7,500 flight hours with possibility for extension. However many airframes have flown more than 15,000 flight hours. In response to complaints by commercial users, that aircraft built after 2000 (the An-124-100) have an improved service life of 24,000 hours, older airframes are being upgraded to this standard. The works on its extension up to 40,000 flight hours are being performed. The Kyiv Aviation Plant AVIANT offers upgrades to the АN-124-100М-150 version.
In May 2008, at the Berlin Air Show, it was reported that the governments of Russia and Ukraine were closing in on final details to restart production of the An-124. The new variant, to be known as the An-124-150, will feature several new features including a maximum lift capacity of 150 tonnes. However, an announcement by Antonov's parent, United Aircraft Corporation in May 2009 does not include any planned production for An-124s in the period 2009 – 2012.
Germany led the recent effort to lease An-124s for NATO strategic airlift requirements. Two aircraft are leased from SALIS GmbH as a stopgap until the Airbus A400M is available.
Russian cargo company Volga-Dnepr has contracts with Boeing to ship outsize aircraft components to their Everett plant. The An-124 is used for airlifting (in fully assembled form) the massive General Electric GE90 turbofan engines used in the Boeing 777 airliner.
Lockheed Martin contracts the An-124 to transport the Atlas V launch vehicle from its facilities near Denver to Cape Canaveral. Two flights are required to transfer each launch vehicle (one for the Atlas V main booster stage and another for the Centaur upper stage).
Space Systems Loral contracts the An-124 to transport satellites from Palo Alto, CA to the Arianespace spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Rolls-Royce contracts the Antonov AN-124 to transport the Trent family engines to and from their test facilities worldwide.
Airbus Transport International has selected another Russian cargo company, Polet Airlines as "designated carrier" to the company. Polet expects its three An-124-100s will transport astronautic equipment manufactured by EADS, which is Airbus' parent company, and full-size components of a model of the Airbus A380 superjumbo. As the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 is the only A380 engine that can be transported whole in a Boeing 747F, the competing Engine Alliance GP7200 needs a larger aircraft, like the An-124, if it is to be shipped in one piece.
Container being lifted into the belly of an Antonov An-124|
- On May 1987, an An-124 set a world record, covering the distance of 20,151 km (10,881 nmi) without refuelling. The flight took 25 hours and 30 minutes; the takeoff weight was 455,000 kg. The previous record was held by B-52H (18,245 km).
- In July 1985, an An-124 took 171,219 kg (377,473 lb) of cargo to an altitude of 10,750 m (35,270 ft).
- An An-124 was used to transport the Obelisk of Axum back to its native homeland of Ethiopia from Rome in April 2005. The shipment was done in three trips, each carrying a third of the monument's 160 tons and 24-metre (78 ft) length. Modifications were done to the airstrip at Axum in order to accommodate such a large aircraft.
- An An-124 was used to transport an EP-3E Aries II electronic intelligence aircraft from Hainan Island, China on 4 July 2001 during the Hainan Island incident.
- An An-124 transported the first of IÉ's new 201 Class (JT42HCW) locomotives from Canada to Ireland in June 1994.
- A Volga-Dnepr An-124 delivered a whale from Nice (France) to Japan; another flight was to deliver an elephant from Moscow to Taiwan.
- On 9 September 2003, an Antonov An-124 carried an 85-ton vessel head to Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania, for use at the nearby Three Mile Island Unit One nuclear power plant.
- The Air Launch Aerospace Corporation (ALAC) in Russia will develop a space transportation system for near-earth orbit using a space launch vehicle ejected from the AN-124-100AL aircraft.
- The An-124s provided by Ruslan International, a specialist transport company based at Stansted UK, has been used on several occasions by BAE Systems to transport airframes as part of their Nimrod refurbishment programme.
- In April 2008, an An-124 provided by Antonov Airlines was used to transport the Pilatus PC-21 to RAAF Base Pearce as part of the Republic of Singapore Air Force S211 to PC-21 transition program.
- In January 2008, an An-124 provided by Antonov Airlines was used to transport military vehicles, weapons, ammunition, water, medical supplies and gear for the Irish Army Rangers for the Mission to Chad.
An-124-100 kneeling with front ramp down (note tilt of aircraft fuselage and retraction of front wheels)|
- An-124 Ruslan
- Strategic heavy airlift transport aircraft.
- Commercial transport aircraft.
- Commercial transport version fitted with Western avionics.
- Commercial transport version which has an EFIS flight deck.
- Proposed version.
- This variant has 1 seat in the rear, and the rest of the cargo area (approx 1800 square feet) is dedicated to
- The new variant, will feature several new features.
- Proposed version with General Electric CF6-80C2 engines, each rated 59,200 lbf (263 kN).
- Joint proposal with Air Foyle to meet UK's Short Term Strategic Airlifter (STSA) requirement, with Rolls-Royce RB211-524H-T engines, each rated 60,600 lbf (264 kN) and Honeywell avionics. STSA competition was abandoned in August 1999, reinstated and won by Boeing C-17A.
- 0 tons of cargo = 15,000 km (8,100 nmi)
- 10 tons of cargo = 14,125 km (7,627 nmi)
- 20 tons of cargo = 13,250 km (7,154 nmi)
- 30 tons of cargo = 12,375 km (6,682 nmi)
- 40 tons of cargo = 11,500 km (6,210 nmi)
- 72 tons of cargo = 8,700 km (4,698 nmi)
- 90 tons of cargo = 7,125 km (3,847 nmi)
- 97 tons of cargo = 6,495 km (3,507 nmi)
- 104 tons of cargo = 5,900 km (3,186 nmi)
- 108 tons of cargo = 5,550 km (2,997 nmi)
- 120 tons of cargo = 4,500 km (2,430 nmi)
- 122 tons of cargo = 4,325 km (2,335 nmi)
- 92 tons of cargo = 7,500 km (4,050 nmi)
- 113 tons of cargo = 5,925 km (3,199 nmi)
- 120 tons of cargo = 5,400 km (2,916 nmi)
- 122 tons of cargo = 5,250 km (2,835 nmi)
In August 2006 a total of 26 Antonov An-124 aircraft remain in airline service, with a further 10 firm orders.
- United Arab Emirates
- Soviet Union
- United Kingdom
Former Military Operators
- Soviet Union
As of 2007, four major An-124 hull-loss accidents have been recorded, with a total of 97 fatalities:
- CCCP-82002, operated by Antonov Airlines crashed near Kiev, Ukraine on 13 October 1992 during flight testing. 8 fatalities.
- RA-82071, Operated by Aviastar Airlines crashed into a mountain at 11,000' while in a holding pattern at Kerman, Iran on 15 November 1993. 17 fatalities.
- RA-82069, owned by Aeroflot but operated by Ajax, crashed at San Francesco al Campo, Italy, during a go-around on 8 October 1996. 4 fatalities.
- RA-82005, operated by the Russian Air Force, crashed in a residential area after take-off in Irkutsk, Russia, on 5 December 1997. 68 fatalities.
Data from antonov.com
- Crew: 6
- Capacity: 88 passengers
- Payload: 150,000 kg (330,000 lb)
- Length: 68.96 m (226 ft 3 in)
- Wingspan: 73.3 m (240 ft 5 in)
- Height: 20.78 m (68 ft 2 in)
- Wing area: 628 m² (6,760 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 175,000 kg (385,000 lb)
- Loaded weight: 405,000 kg (892,000 lb)
- Useful load: 230,000 kg (508,000 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 405,000 kg (893,000 lb)
- Powerplant: 4× Ivchenko Progress D-18T turbofans, 229.5 kN (51,600 lbf) each
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Published - July 2009
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