30 Years After

To comply with the ICAO requirements being updated progressively for airplanes that fly on international air routes, the Аn-124-100 equipment underwent continuous modifications. Thus the airplanes were equipped with noise-reducing engine nacelles providing compliance with the requirements of ICAO Annex 16 Chapter 3 noise standards.

The 3MGPS satellite navigation system  was installed on it. Due to the reduction of vertical separation intervals to 300 meters, certain upgrades had been conducted in the Аn-124-100 resulting in the issuance of a Supplement to the Aircraft Type Certificate. A Honeywell TCAS-2000 anti-collision systems and the domestic-made СППЗ-2000 ground proximity warning system were installed, too. However, the process of the Ruslan type design upgrading is not over. Taking into account the aircraft operating experience, some structural elements of its fuselage and wing  have been strengthened, the forward ramp and cargo floor improved, anti-corrosion protection of specific areas increased, etc.

A new Аn-124-100М-150 model was built in August 2004. The aircraft with a serial number 01-06 was reworked. That airplane had the following modifications: Its maximum payload was increased to 150 t; the maximum take-off weight of 392t grew up to 402 tons, the flying range, including flights with 120-ton cargo, increased from 4750 km to 5300 km. Meeting the Eurocontrol requirement  for precision navigation in the area of P-RNAV airports, the new Ruslan was equipped with an improved navigational system which allowed a reduction in the number of air crew from 6 to 4 persons. Certification tests of the Аn-124-100М-150 were completed in 2007.

Based on the results of additional fatigue tests, strength analyses and calculations, taking into account individual operational service records for each airplane, as well as studies of the Ruslan structural inspection experience, a service life limit of 50,000 flying hours, 10,000 flights and 45 calendar years of operation was established in August 2009.

At MAKS-2011 International Air Show, held in Zhukovskii, a technical project and a frame schedule for the next stage of the Аn-124-100 upgrade to the Аn-124-111 version was signed. The customer of this modification is Volga-Dnepr Airlines Limited.

A “glass cockpit”, other air-borne equipment of the new generation, digital aircraft control system, improved APU with digital control system is to be arranged at the aircraft.

The “Decision on Main Measures for Resumption of Series Production and Stage-by-Stage Upgrade of the Аn-124-100 Airplane at Russian and Ukrainian Factories” was signed early in 2005 between Ukraine and Russia. That year a corresponding business-plan at the joint Russian-Ukrainian counsel was considered and confirmed. According to this plan a final aircraft assemblage would be at the Russian Volga-Dnepr joint-stock airline established on the basis of Ulyanovsk Aviastar company The program on “Renewal of the AN-124 serial production” was included into the Strategy of Russian aviation industry development and into the Federal special-purpose program of the development of aviation technique during the period of up to 2015.

 The project for recovery of the Аn-124 series production is based on following principles: commercial approach with simultaneous governmental support of both countries; attraction of international investments; revival of high-technology manufactures; creation of jobs; preservation of the Russian-Ukrainian monopoly for heavy ramp accessed air transport in the world market; integration with the western manufacturers of vendor items.

An upgraded version the Аn-124-200 is being prepared for the new stage of series production: it will be particular as to its higher lifting capacity and transport efficiency, extended flight range, a new flight navigation system, and modified engines, to comply with present and future ICAO standards.

Ruslan hasn’t exhausted its opportunities yet. The technical decisions that are designed-in can’t but impress. Thus, in a result of already executed works, in December 2012 a payload was increased from 120 to 135 m at the basic aircraft of the AN-124-100 basic version (and at the AN-124-100M). This is another step to further success.