An-124 production resumption date slips again

Volga-Dnepr Airlines is the largest commercial operator of An-124-100s
Volga-Dnepr Airlines is the largest commercial operator of An-124-100s / Leonid Faerberg / Transport-Photo.com

On August 17 and 18 MAKS 2011 air show is hosting the 4th European Transport Aviation Congress. One of the major topics to be discussed at this forum is the possibility of resuming series production of the unique Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy-lift transport aircraft. The last Ruslans were assembled in Russia in 2004. This type is extremely popular with commercial operators such as Russian Volga-Dnepr and Polet cargo carriers, but their paying demand is not going to be enough to cover the costs (a minimum $17 million) involved in resuming production at the Ulyanovsk-based Aviastar-SP aircraft plant. This is why a government customer is needed to kick-start the program.

President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009 instructed the government to include the procurement of 20 An-124 military transports in the state armament program through the year 2020. The instruction was to do this by June 1, 2010, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin identified as the official in charge of the program. In early August 2011, Airborne Troops Commander Lt-Gen Vladimir Shamanov reported that the Russian Air Force would receive 20 An-124 as envisaged by the aforementioned armament program. At the same time, Vyacheslav Boguslaev, the president and Board of Directors chairman of the Ukrainian engine manufacturer Motor Sich (supplies Progress D-18T engines for the Ruslans), said in late June that, as announced at a recent meeting in Ulyanovsk, the An-124 production resumption program at Aviastar-SP had been postponed until 2016. Among the possible causes of the delay being cited are financial problems and the Ulyanovsk facility’s already overstretched workloads under the Tupolev Ty-204 and Ilyushin Il-476 production programs.

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