An-124 CONDOR (ANTONOV)
An-124 was created in the tradition of An-22 to be the largest production transport aircraft in the world. It is larger than the C-5B Galaxy, but smaller than the An-225 Mriya (NATO named Cossack) which carries the Russian space shuttle. The first prototype (SSSR 82002, Number 318) flew on December 26, 1982. Designed as a military transport, it appeared at the Paris Air Show in Aeroflot colors in June 1985.
It is similar to the C-5A except for the low horizontal stabilizer. The Condor appears to have a wing of higher aspect ratio and a slightly higher sweep. The horizontal tail is larger and is body-mounted rather than T-mounted on the vertical tail. The wing has conventional ailerons, singleslotted Fowler flaps, leading-edge flaps, and upper-surface spoilers. The tail has fixed-incidence and an elevator. The wings are high-mounted, swept-back, and tapered with curved tips and negative slant. Four turbofans are mounted on pylons under the wings. The fuselage is a thick oval in cross-section with a rounded nose and tapering to the rear. The tail fin is swept-back and tapered with rounded tips. Flats are swept-back, tapered, and mid-mounted on the body.
The An-124 includes many features to aid in loading and unloading and has an extensive array of flaps and spoilers to facilitate low-speed flight and short-field operation. The An-124 can unload cargo from both the tail and nose of the jet and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for carrying the heaviest single cargo item ever, a 135.2 ton electric generator. The Condor has a wider storage area and can carry more weight than the Air Force C-5 Galaxy cargo transportation aircraft. The "Condor" uses a 24-wheel landing gear system, which permits its operation on unprepared fields.
The Condor is the largest aircraft ever mass produced. It was designed by the Soviet aerospace companies Aviastar and Antonov in the late 1970s and conducted its first test flight in 1982. The Condor began flying for the Red Air Force and Aeroflot in 1986. It is capable of hauling 300,000 pounds of cargo and 88 passengers. It holds the world record for extended flight, covering a distance of 20,151 kilometers. It has a maximum airspeed of over 450 knots and a maximum range of 2,900 nautical miles between refueling stops.
The heavy transport An-124 was created in 1982; it is a wide-body aircraft, designed to carry various cargoes, including those, whose loading gauge and weight do no allow carrying them by rail and other means of transportations. The An-124-100 "Ruslan" is a civil version of the airplane. The vehicle was designed to large freight hauling for new building work in Siberia , the North and the Far East , as well as at transcontinental carriages. the cargo space can place and secure carriage of maritime containers weighing up to 20 t in through the fore and aft hatches, long frameworks and bridge conduits, earthmovers and pipe-laying machines, building cranes and drilling equipment, heavy dump-trucks and tractors, buses, river boats, etc. Modern airborne transport equipment comprising two bridge cranes weighing 10 t each, two winches with the thrust of 29 kN, and roller and tie-down equipment provides for loading and unloading the aircraft without assistance.
The high-pass gear allows operating the airplane both at paved and unpaved runways. Mechanization of handling and two auxiliary power units for power supply and engine ignition secure autonomous operation of the aircraft at poorly equipped aerodromes. High carrying capacity and flight range, the engines economy and autonomous operation of the aircraft provide for a high profitability in operation. The prime cost of cargo carriage by the An-124 is half as high as that by other transport airplanes.
The multipurpose heavy long-haul wide-body transport aircraft An-124-100 "Ruslan" is designed to carry various cargoes, including bulky and heavy goods, as well as equipment, that cannot be carried by rail and land. The vehicle secures cargo transportation at long distances, including transcontinental routes. The An-124 can also carry 88 passengers in an upper deck behind the cockpit.
The aircraft is able to cover the distance of 4500 km with the maximum load of 120 t, it performs flights in all latitudes, in altitudes of up to 10000 m and in temperatures ranging from 60 ? ? below zero to 45 ? ? above zero. It secures operations at the meteorological minimum of 60x600 m ICAO Category I, at the aerodromes that are certified under this category. The wing pylons are fitted with four power units, each with the engine thrust of 23,4T, which provide for rather low fuel consumption (0.6 kg/kf . h) for this type of airplanes. Two auxiliary power units TA-12 ensure the air and land engine starting as well as the aircraft power supply.
The airplane is fitted with the handling equipment, including two cranes, each with carrying capacity of 3 t. The fore and aft cargo hatches are used for handling; they allow maximum using the midship of the cargo space of 6.4x4.4 m. the cargo hatches are equipped with leading footlights, and special systems regulate the height of the cargo hatches doorsills. High carrying capacity and flight range, the engines economy and autonomous operation of the aircraft provide for a high profitability in operation.
A total of 57 An-124 planes were built since 1986. Of them, 49 were in operation as of early 2007. About half of them belonged to the Defense Ministry of Russia. The remained were owned by Volga-Dnepro Airlines - 10 units, Ukraine's Antonov Airlines - 7, Russia's Polyot Airlines - 5, Libya - 2 and the United Arab Emirates - 1.
The An-124-100 "Ruslan" is a civil version of the airplane. The vehicle was designed to large freight hauling for new building work in Siberia , the North and the Far East , as well as at transcontinental carriages. the cargo space can place and secure carriage of maritime containers weighing up to 20 t in through the fore and aft hatches, long frameworks and bridge conduits, earthmovers and pipe-laying machines, building cranes and drilling equipment, heavy dump-trucks and tractors, buses, river boats, etc.
In 2001 the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) awarded the Antonov design bureau, the developer, and Avistar production plant, the manufacturer, a complimentary certificate for the An-124-100 Ruslan heavy weight cargo aircraft extending its lifetime to 24,000 flight hours, 6,000 flight cycles and 25 calendar years. At that time research done by the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI) and the State Scientific-Research Institute of Civil Aviation (GosNII GA) showed that the Ruslan's lifetime might be increased further to 40,000 flight hours, 10,000 flight cycles and 40-45 years. This meant that the Ruslan can stay in service until the year 2040.
During the Soviet era, An-124 aircraft were assembled at two plants: Aviant in Kiev, Ukraine, and at Aviastar in the town of Ulyanovsk, Russia. All in all thirty six An-124 aircraft were produced at the Ulyanovsk Aviastar Plant. In 2004 Aviastar assembled the final An-124-100 from the backlog remaining of previous years.
"Aviant" has completed production of the An-124-100s "Ruslan", but it continues manufacturing spare parts for the vehicle, performs various forms of maintenance of An-124s, and converts An-124s into the variant An-124-100. The works is now considering several airlines' offers to restart production of the airplanes of this type. Works on modernization of the basic model of the Ruslan are under way. Motor Sich is working on increasing the supply of motors and improving their specifications and capacities. Vyacheslav Bohuslayev, Chairman of the Board of OJSC Motor Sich, says that the company's designers increased the design resource by 160 times from 500 to 80,000 hours. The thrust of the new engine was increased by about 15-20%, which will increase cargo lift capacity from 120 to 150 tonnes. Meanwhile, the Russians have already begun renewing the assembled stock (parts) at the Uliyanovskiy Aircraft Manufacturing Plant.
On 15 July 2008 Ukraine and Russia agreed to continue studying AN-124-100 Ruslan planes market within the frames of the project on renewal of serial production of these planes, Industrial Policy Minister Volodymyr Novytskyi informed while commenting on his meeting with President of the Russian OJSC United Aircraft Corporation Alexey Fedorov in Kyiv. In order to renew the production of the Ruslan aircraft suspended ten years ago, Volga-Dnepro, the manufacturer of aircraft engines at Motor Sich (Zaporizhzhya), and the Kyiv Antonov Design Bureau (the main designer of the plane), created a special managing company Cargo Planes. The plans also foresee the Uliyanovskiy Aircraft Manufacturing Plant (Russia), where holding frames for the manufacture of the Ruslan have been preserved, and the Progress Design Bureau (Zaporizhzhya), which manufactures aircraft engines, joining the Volgo-Dnepro and Antonov in the near future. Start-up investments into the revival of Ruslan are approximately US $400 mn. This would only be a sufficient amount of investment to revive manufacturing and produce several aircraft units. For full-scale line production, around US $2 bn in investments is required.
The An-124-100-150 "Ruslan" passed certificate testing on 25 April 2007. At the final stage of the trial, a piloting-and-navigation system (PNS) was put on the test. The purpose was to make sure it meets the requirements of basic and accurate zonal navigation (B-RNAV and P-RNAV) when performing terminal taking-off and arrival procedures to European airports, where these procedures are certified and should be performed by means of zonal navigation method.
The An-124-100M aircraft, with western avionics and a payload of 150 tons, was to be the initial product of renewed assembly by the Antonov Design Bureau and Volga-Dnipro group of companies, which had signed a contract in 2003 to resume production of the An-124 Ruslan aircraft. The An-124-100M variant complies with chapter 4 ICAO and other new technical requirements.
The An-124-100M-150, a modernized Ruslan with a cargo capacity of 150 tons, is planned for series production starting in 2012 in a broad Russian-Ukrainian cooperation. The new version of the airplane certified by the interstate aviation committee in June of 2007 complies with requirements of European control of zonal navigation P-RNAV, as well as accuracy requirements of piloting airplanes ?-RNP-1. Preparation for the validation of certificate of type by the EASA was already started in 2008. Ruslan International Ltd (UK) established by the partners in 2006 acts as the marketing agent of the Ukrainian and Russian operators. Volga-Dnepr and ANTK Antonov intend to renew the production of the transport airplanes, placing an order on 17 aircraft. Motor Sich will design a modified D-18T engine of 4th series especially for these aircraft.
The proposed An-124-210, with 264-kN Rolls-Royce RB.211-524H-T engines in lieu of the 229-kN ZMKB Progress D-18T offers better field performance, requiring a 2,300m strip for takeoff instead of 2,800 m for the current An-124-100 model.
The An-124-300 is a new version Antonov would like to produce which would use more powerful Western turbofan engines and be able to carry an increased load of 150 tons. Design work is underway to create a supersized An-124-300 designed for nonstop transcontinental flights. The Chinese PLA would ostensibly purchase this freighter to become more competitive in commercial outsized cargo transport.
The An-225 Mriya is a strategic airlift transport aircraft which was built by Antonov, and is currently the world's largest airplane. The design, built to transport the "Buran" shuttle, was an enlargement of the successful An-124 Ruslan. With a maximum gross weight of 640 tonnes (1,411,000 lb), the An-225 is the world's heaviest aircraft.
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