|Designed by||Antonov OKB|
|Primary users||Russian Air Force (25)|
Antonov Airlines (7)
Polet Airlines (6)
|Unit cost||~US$150-200 million|
The Antonov An-124 Ruslan (NATO reporting name: Condor) is the largest aircraft ever mass produced, and was, until the advent of the An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft in production. During development it was known as the An-400 and An-40 in the West, and it flew for the first time in 1982. Over forty are currently in service (26 civilian models with airlines and 10 firm orders at August 2006) in Russia, Ukraine, UAE, Libya, and Ireland.
Physically, the An-124 is similar to the American Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, but is slightly larger. 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 cockpit. However, due to limited pressurization in the fuselage, it seldom carries paratroopers.
An-124 was manufactured by Russian company Aviastar (ex. Ulyanovsk Aviation Industrial Complex) and Antonov in Ukraine. Series production ceased with the break up of the Soviet Union. Several unfinished airframes left from the Soviet times were completed in the late nineties. While currently no An-124 are being produced - there are joint effort of Russia and Ukraine to resume series production in 2008-2009.
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, 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 40000 flight hours are being performed. The state enterprise Kyiv Aviation Plant AVIANT (Kiev, Ukraine) offers upgrades to the АN-124-100М-150 version.
Russian cargo company Volga-Dnepr has contracts with Boeing to ship outsize aircraft components to their Everett plant. The An-124 is the only means of airlifting (in fully assembled form) the massive General Electric GE90 turbofan engines used in the Boeing 777 airliner.
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 owns 80 percent of Airbus 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.
- On May 1987, an An-124 set a world record, covering the distance of 20,151 km 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 of cargo to an altitude of 10,750 m.
- An An-124 was used to transport the Obelisk of Axum back to its native homeland of Ethiopia in April of 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 July 4, 2001 during the U.S.-China spy plane incident.
- A 109-tonne train locomotive was transported by an An-124 from Canada to Ireland in September 2001.
- 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 September 9 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.
As of 2005 there have been four major crashes of An-124s, with a total of 50 fatalities, taking place between 1992 and 1997:
- CCCP-82002, operated by Antonov Airlines crashed near Kiev, Ukraine on October 13 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 November 15 1993. 17 fatalities.
- RA-82069, owned by Aeroflot but operated by Ajax, crashed at Turin, Italy, during a go-around on October 8 1996. 2 fatalities.
- RA-82005, operated by the Russian Air Force, crashed after take-off in Irkutsk, Russia, on December 5 1997. 23 fatalities.
Minor incidents of An-124s include:
- UR-82029, owned by Antonov Airlines overran the runway at Windsor, Ontario while landing at night and in snow on December 18 2000. It stopped 340 feet beyond the runway after landing some 3400 feet beyond the threshold of runway 25, which is 7850 feet long. None of the 20 crew were injured, and the plane suffered minor damage.
- Volga-Dnepr (10, plus 5 orders)
- Polet Airlines (6, plus 5 orders)
- Antonov Airlines (7)
- Libyan Arab Air Cargo (2)
- Antonov Design Bureau (1)
- 0 tons of cargo = 15,000 km 
- 10 tons of cargo = 14,125 km
- 20 tons of cargo = 13,250 km
- 30 tons of cargo = 12,375 km
- 40 tons of cargo = 11,500 km
- 72 tons of cargo = 8,700 km
- 90 tons of cargo = 7,125 km
- 97 tons of cargo = 6,495 km
- 104 tons of cargo = 5,900 km
- 108 tons of cargo = 5,550 km
- 120 tons of cargo = 4,500 km
- 122 tons of cargo = 4,325 km
- 92 tons of cargo = 7,500 km
- 113 tons of cargo = 5,925 km
- 120 tons of cargo = 5,400 km
- 122 tons of cargo = 5,250 km
Flight range comparison with other aircraft
- Airbus A380F has a flight range of 10,400 km with 152 metric tons of cargo.
- C-5 Galaxy has a flight range of 3,982 km with 122 metric tons of cargo. An-124 has 32% longer range.
- Boeing 747-400 has a range of 8,240 km with 113 metric tons of cargo, 39% more than An-124 and 79% more than the C-5 Galaxy.
- Il-96-400T has a range of 4800 km with 92 metric tons of cargo. An-124 has 56% more range. However with 40 tons of cargo both An-124 and Il-96-400T have the same range: 11,500 km.
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 ft²)
- Empty weight: 175,000 kg (385,000 lb)
- Loaded weight: 229,000 kg (505,000 lb)
- Useful load: 230,000 kg (508,000 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 405,000 kg (893,000 lb)
- Powerplant: 4× Lotarev D-18 turbofans, 230 kN (51,600 lbf) each
- Maximum speed: 865 km/h (467 knots, 537 mph)
- Cruise speed: 800 km/h (430 knots, 500 mph)
- Range: 5,400 km (2,900 nm, 3,360 mi)
- Service ceiling: 12,000 m (35,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: ft/min (m/s)
- Wing loading: 365 kg/m² (74.7 lb/ft²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.41
- Flight International, 3-9 October 2006
- Phillips, CPT W. Scott (1999-08-31). Fixed-Wing Aircraft. Federation of American Scientists Military Analysis Network.
- "Antonov plan to resume An-124-100 production", podrobnosti.ua, 2006-07-19. Retrieved on 2007-01-21. (in Russian)
- "Strategic airlift agreement enters into force", NATO Update, 2006-03-23.
- "Airbus Taps Russian Carrier", Kommersant, 2005-11-25.
- Trent 900. Rolls Royce: Civil Aerospace.
- "The first flying train in history", The HeavyLift Group, 2001-09-03.
- press release 14-10-2004. Volga-Dnepr Group (2004-10-14).
- Aviation Safety Network
- Transportation Safety Board of Canada Incident Report
- www.antonov.com. Official Antonov website.
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