Antonov An-124 Ruslan

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An-124 Ruslan
Polet Airlines An-124 RA-82075 in flight 28-Jul-2011.jpg
A Polet Airlines An-124 approaching Sheremetyevo International Airport (July 2011)
Role Transport aircraft
National origin Soviet Union
Manufacturer Antonov, Aviastar-SP
First flight 26 December 1982[1]
Introduction 1986
Status In service
Primary users Russian Air Force
Antonov Airlines
Volga-Dnepr Airlines
Produced 1982–present
Number built 55[2]
Unit cost
US$70–100 million[3]
Developed into Antonov An-225

The Antonov An-124 Ruslan (Ukrainian: Антонов Ан-124 "Руслан") (NATO reporting name: Condor) is a strategic airlift jet aircraft. It was designed by the Antonov design bureau in the Ukrainian SSR, then part of the Soviet Union. The An-124 is the world's highest gross weight production cargo aeroplane and second heaviest operating cargo aircraft, behind the one-off Antonov An-225 (a greatly enlarged design based on the An-124).[5]

During development it was known as Izdeliye 400 (Product #400) in house, and An-40 in the West. First flown in 1982, civil certification was issued on 30 December 1992.[6] In July 2013, 26 An-124s were in commercial service with 10 on order.[7]

Development[edit]

During the 1970s, the VTA (Military Transport Aviation) arm of the Soviet Air Force had a shortfall in strategic heavy airlift capacity. Its largest planes consisted of about 50 Antonov An-22 turboprops, which were used heavily for tactical roles. A classified 1975 CIA analysis concluded that the USSR did "...not match the US in ability to provide long-range heavy lift support."[8]

An-124-100 kneeling with front ramp down (note tilt of aircraft fuselage and retraction of front wheels)

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. Design work started in 1971 and construction of facilities began in 1973. Manufacturing on the first airframe began in 1979.[9] Ultimately this project brought together over 100 factories contracted to produce systems and parts.

The first flight took place in December 1982 and the first exposure to the West followed in 1985 at the Paris Air Show.[10]

Russia and Ukraine agreed to resume the production in the third quarter of 2008.[11] In May 2008, a new variant—the An-124-150—was announced; it featured several improvements, including a maximum lift capacity of 150 tonnes.[12] However, in May 2009, Antonov's partner, United Aircraft Corporation announced it did not plan production of An-124s in the period 2009–2012.[13] In late 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered production of the aircraft resumed. It is expected that Russia will purchase 20 new aircraft.[14]

Design[edit]

Cockpit of a Polet An-124

Externally, the An-124 is similar to the American Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, having a similarly designed fuselage but slightly shorter, a slightly greater wingspan, and a 25% larger payload. Instead of the Galaxy's T-tail, the An-124 uses a conventional empennage, similar in design to that of the Boeing 747. The An-124 has been used to carry yachts, aircraft fuselages, a 109 tonne locomotive from Canada to Ireland in September 2001,[15][16] and a variety of other oversized cargoes. The aircraft is able to kneel to allow easier front loading; and has an onboard overhead crane capable of lifting up to 30 tonnes of cargo, and items up to 120 tonnes can be winched on board.[17]

Up to 150 tonnes (150 long tons; 170 short tons) 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. The cargo compartment of An-124 is 36×6.4×4.4 m (118×21×14 ft), ca. 20% larger than the main cargo compartment of C-5 Galaxy, which is 36.91×5.79×4.09 m (121.1×19.0×13.4 ft). Due to limited pressurisation in the main cargo compartment (24.6 kPa, 3.57 psi),[18] it seldom carries paratroopers.[19]

Pilots have stated that the An-124 is light on the controls and easy to handle for an aircraft of its size.[20]

Some airports require pavement protection from the heat and blast effects of the An-124's auxiliary power unit.[21]

Operational history[edit]

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.[22] Under NATO SALIS programme NAMSA is chartering six An-124-100 transport aircraft. According to the contract An-124-100s of Antonov Airlines and Volga-Dnepr are used within the limits of NATO SALIS programme to transport cargo by requests of 18 countries: Belgium, Hungary, Greece, Denmark, Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, France, Germany, Czech Republic and Sweden. Two An-124-100s are constantly based on full-time charter in the Leipzig/Halle airport, but the contract specifies that if necessary, two more aircraft will be provided on six days notice and another two on nine days notice.[23] The aircraft proved extremely useful for NATO especially with ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.[24]

The Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle "Mystic" being loaded at Naval Air Station North Island, California

United Launch Alliance (ULA) contracts the An-124 to transport the Atlas V launch vehicle from its facilities in Decatur, Alabama to Cape Canaveral. ULA also uses the An-124 to transport the Atlas V launch vehicle and Centaur upper stage from their manufacturing facility in Denver, Colorado to Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base.[25] Two flights are required to transfer each launch vehicle (one for the Atlas V main booster stage and another for the Centaur upper stage).[26] It is also contracted by Space Systems Loral to transport satellites from Palo Alto, CA to the Arianespace spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.[27]

Airbus Transport International, a subsidiary of Airbus, 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 components of the Airbus A380 superjumbo.[28] The Rolls-Royce Trent 900 is the only A380 engine that can be transported whole in a Boeing 747F.[29]

As of 2013 the An-124 has visited 768 airports in over 100 countries.[30]

Significant activities[edit]

Polet Airlines An-124 being loaded with a downscaled model of an Airbus A380 centre fuselage section in Emirates livery
  • On May 1987, an An-124 set a world record, covering the distance of 20,151 km (10,881 nmi) without refuelling.[31] The flight took 25 hours and 30 minutes; the takeoff weight was 455,000 kg.[citation needed]
  • In July 1985, an An-124 carried 171,219 kg (377,473 lb) of cargo to an altitude of 2,000 m (6,600 ft) and 170,000 kg to an altitude of 10,750 m (35,270 ft).[32]
  • An An-124 was used to transport the Obelisk of Axum back to its native homeland of Ethiopia from Rome in April 2005.[33]
  • An An-124 was used to transport an EP-3E Aries II electronic intelligence aircraft from Hainan Island, China on 4 July 2001 following the Hainan Island incident.
  • In July 2010, an An-124 was used to transport four 35-foot and three 21-foot skimmer boats from France to the USA to assist with the clean-up of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill[34]
  • An An-124 was used in April 2011 to airlift a large Putzmeister concrete pump from Germany to Japan to help cool reactors damaged in the Fukushima nuclear accident.[35] The An-225 was used to transport an even larger pump to Japan from the United States.[36]

Variants[edit]

Volga-Dnepr Antonov An-124-100M-150 with nose door open at MAKS 2005, Moscow – Zhukovskiy; Cubana de Aviación Ilyushin Il-96 in background.
An-124-100 of Maximus Air Cargo at Brno Airport (2010)
An-124 Ruslan
Strategic heavy airlift transport aircraft
An-124-100
Commercial transport aircraft
An-124-100M-150
Commercial transport version fitted with Western avionics
An-124-102
Commercial transport version with an EFIS flight deck
An-124-115M
Planned new variant with EFIS based on Rockwell Collins avionic parts
An-124-130
Proposed version
An-124-135
Variant with one seat in the rear and the rest of the cargo area (approx. 1,800 square feet) dedicated to freight
An-124-150
Planned new variant with several new features
An-124-200
Proposed version with General Electric CF6-80C2 engines, each rated at 59,200 lbf (263 kN)
An-124-210
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 abandoned in August 1999, reinstated, and won by the Boeing C-17A.
An-124-300
variant ordered by the Russian Air Force with new avionics, a new improved braking system and a payload of 150 tons.[37]

Operators[edit]

An-124 of Russia State Transport Company at Perth Airport in the mid-1990s

Military[edit]

 Russia

Former military operators[edit]

 Soviet Union

Civil[edit]

A Volga-Dnepr An-124-100

In July 2013, 26 An-124s were in commercial service.[7]

 Libya
 Russia
 Ukraine
 United Arab Emirates

Former civil operators[edit]

 Russia
 Soviet Union
 United Kingdom

Notable accidents[edit]

As of 2011, four An-124 hull-loss accidents have been recorded, with a total of 97 fatalities:[41]

Specifications (An-124-100M-150)[edit]

3 sides view
Container being lifted into the belly of an An-124 using the on-board overhead crane

Data from Antonov.com[46]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4–6 (pilot, copilot, navigator, senior flight engineer (+flight engineer, radio man) + 2 loadmasters)
  • Capacity: 88 passengers or the hold can take an additional 350 on a palletised seating system
  • 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 (893,000 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

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 865 km/h (467 kn (537 mph))
  • Cruise speed: 800–850 km/h (430 kn (490 mph))
  • Range: 5,200 km (2,808 nm, 3231 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,370 ft)
  • Wing loading: 365 kg/m² (74.7 lb/sq ft)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.23
  • Take-off run distance (maximum take-off weight): 2,520 m (8,270 ft)
  • Landing roll distance at maximum landing weight: 900 m (3,000 ft)

Flight range[edit]

An-124-100
  • 0 tons of cargo= 15,000 km (8,100 nmi)[47]
  • 10 tons of cargo= 14,100 km (7,613 nmi)
  • 20 tons of cargo= 13,250 km (7,154 nmi)
  • 30 tons of cargo= 12,300 km (6,641 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= 7,100 km (3,834 nmi)
  • 97 tons of cargo= 6,500 km (3,510 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)
Аn-124-100М-150
  • 40 tons of cargo= 11,900 km (6,425 nmi)
  • 92 tons of cargo= 7,500 km (4,050 nmi)
  • 113 tons of cargo= 5,900 km (3,186 nmi)
  • 120 tons of cargo= 5,400 km (2,916 nmi)
  • 122 tons of cargo= 5,200 km (2,808 nmi)
  • 150 tons of cargo= 3,200 km (1,728 nmi)

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Antonov" News. antonov.com
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2][dead link]
  4. ^ [3] Antonov An-124 Performance @ Antonov.com Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  5. ^ Though the as planned An-124-100M-150 enlarged version has a 7% higher payload than the operational Boeing 747-8F. The 747-8F has over two times the range (5,050 mi or 8,130 km) with a payload of 295,800 lb (134,000 kg) than the An-124-100M-150 with the same payload. The An-124-100M-150 is to carry less than half the payload at the same range.[4]
  6. ^ E. Gordon, Antonov's Heavy Transports, Midland Publishing.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "World Airliner Census". Flight International, 16–22 August 2013
  8. ^ Trends in Soviet Military Programs (October 1976) (originally Top Secret), Central Intelligence Agency.
  9. ^ Era of Ruslan: 25 years. Antonov, Accessed: 6 November 2011.
  10. ^ The Condor: A New Soviet Heavy Transport (originally classified Secret), 1986, Central Intelligence Agency.
  11. ^ "Ukraine, Russia to resume production of giant cargo planes". Forbes. 28 April 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2008. [dead link]
  12. ^ Michael A. Taverna/Berlin (29 May 2008). "Russia, Ukraine Near Deal on Relaunch of Modernized An-124". Aviation Week. Retrieved 16 August 2008. [dead link]
  13. ^ Kingsley-Jones, Max (7 May 2009). "Superjet the biggest casualty as Russia slashes airliner output plans". Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  14. ^ Maternovsky, Dennis (2009). "Russia to Resume Making World’s Largest Plane, Kommersant Says". Bloomberg.com. 24 December 2009. Accessed 28 Dec 2009.
  15. ^ "Antonov's Giant: the An-124 Ruslan". 
  16. ^ "looking at irish rail past and today". 
  17. ^ An124-100 technical specification Ruslan International. Retrieved: 24 July 2010.
  18. ^ Antonov's Heavy Transports. Midland Publishing
  19. ^ Phillips, CPT W. Scott (31 August 1999). "Fixed-Wing Aircraft". Federation of American Scientists Military Analysis Network. 
  20. ^ "AVIATION Reports – 2000 – A00O0279". Transportation Safety Board of Canada, 31 July 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2012. Quote: "The AN124 has been described by training personnel and pilots as being very easy to handle for an aircraft of its size. The AN124 tends to be very light on the controls."
  21. ^ Nielsen, Erik. "Copenhagen Airport, Use of auxiliary power unit (APU)". Copenhagen Airport / Boeing. p. 6.5. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  22. ^ "Strategic airlift agreement enters into force". NATO Update. 23 March 2006. 
  23. ^ Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS)[dead link]
  24. ^ Antonov An-124 NATO SALIS Program Extended Through End of 2010. deagel.com
  25. ^ Lockheed Martin Atlas rocket on The History Channel.
  26. ^ Lockheed Martin Delivers Atlas V to Cape Canaveral for NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission. Mars Today, 4 April 2005.
  27. ^ Space Systems/Loral Delivers World'S Largest Satellite To Launch Base
  28. ^ "Airbus Taps Russian Carrier". Kommersant. 25 November 2005. 
  29. ^ "Trent 900". Rolls Royce: Civil Aerospace. [dead link]
  30. ^ "30 years since the AN-124 Ruslan maiden take-of". Antonov.com. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  31. ^ Оружие России; Ан-124 "Руслан" (Condor), дальний тяжелый военно-транспортный самолет
  32. ^ Аэрокосмическое общество Украины; Международная авиационная федерация зарегистрировала 124 мировых рекорда, установленных на самолёте Ан-225[dead link]
  33. ^ BBC News; Obelisk arrives back in Ethiopia
  34. ^ http://www.eft.com/freight-transport/chapman-freeborn-delivers-skimmer-boats-gulf-mexico
  35. ^ Germany sends giant pump to help cool Fukushima reactor
  36. ^ SRS pump will head to Japan
  37. ^ "Russian Air Force Gets First Modernized An-124s". RIA Novosti. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  38. ^ bmpd (April 12). "bmpd - Самолет Ан-124: история, настоящее, перспективы". Bmpd.livejournal.com. Retrieved 2013-06-21.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  39. ^ bmpd (May 9). "bmpd - Петр Бутовски об Ан-124 "Руслан"". Bmpd.livejournal.com. Retrieved 2013-06-21.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  40. ^ see also http://www.ww2.dk/new/air%20force/regiment/tap/566vtap.htm and ru:Сеща (аэродром)
  41. ^ Aviation Safety Network
  42. ^ Aviation Safety Network
  43. ^ Aviation Safety Network
  44. ^ Aviation Safety Network
  45. ^ "Multiple engine failure blamed for An-124 Irkutsk accident". Flight International, 17 December 1997.
  46. ^ "Antonov AN-124-100 Ruslan / Antonov An-124-100/An-124-200 Performance". Official Antonov site. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  47. ^ "An-124 virtual loading at Volga-Dnepr". 

External links[edit]

External video
Company documentary video