AN-124-100 Ruslan / Ruslan heavy transport and its modifications
The AN-124-100 commercial aircraft has been developed on the basis of the AN-124 “Ruslan” heavy military transport aircraft. It is the biggest series heavy lifter in the world. It is intended for the transportation of heavy and oversized cargo and various special-purpose vehicles. In 1992, ANTONOV obtained the Type Certificate for the AN-124-100. The aircraft meets the noise level requirements of Part III, Appendix 16, of the ICAO regulations, requirements relating to emissions of aviation engines, accuracy of piloting, flights under conditions of short vertical separation spacing, etc.
The AN-124-100 has a double-deck fuselage layout. On the upper deck, there is the cockpit and relief crew compartment and the cargo attendants’ cabin. The lower deck is a pressurized cargo compartment. The construction and dimensions of the forward and rear cargo doors, closed with ramps, ensure quick and easy loading/unloading operations. The onboard ceiling mounted cranes allow loading/unloading without ground equipment. The multi-wheel landing gear with rough-field capability, two APUs and mechanized loading enable independent operation of the aircraft from poorly equipped airfields. Simplicity, reliability and safety of the aircraft operation are ensured by the redundancy and computerization of its systems.
The aircraft’s unique cargo capacity and high performance have been proved through commercial operations which have opened up new segments of the air cargo market: the transportation of oversized and extra-heavy cargo. The AN-124 has been used to deliver 90 ton hydraulic turbines, the Liebherr large dimension mobile crane, the USA Euclid mine truck, the fuselage of the Tu-204 passenger aircraft, a 109 ton locomotive, General Electric GE90 aircraft engines, various combat vehicles, Lynx anti-submarine helicopters, a spaceship in its container and other unique cargoes. It rescued refugees and people suffered from natural disasters, transported tanks and Christmas trees, elite fast horses and cruise yachts, concert equipment and reconnaissance aircraft, banknotes and pure gold. The list of its cargo is endless – in this sense it can be called as the most universal airplane in the whole history of aviation.
AN-124-100 often carries cargo which cannot be delivered with other transport. For example, only Ruslan was able to return a relic to the people of Ethiopia. It carried this relic -- the granite obelisk from the grave of the ruler of the powerful kingdom of former times situated in the north of Ethiopia – from Italy to Ethiopia. Transportation of the water deminiralizer weighing 72 t by AN-124-100 to Marshall Islands was much appreciated by the government of this state. It decided to immortalize that transportation with issue of the collection postage stamp.
ANTONOV Company’s transport subdivision known as ANTONOV Airlines operates 7 Ruslans.
In March 2006, Ruslans started missions within SALIS (Strategic Airlift Interim Solution) program of NATO and EU.
ANTONOV is working on modernization of the AN-124-100. The АN-124-100М-150 version includes the main components of the АN-124-100 program development:
- payload increased from 120 tons to 150 tons;
- take-off weight increased from 392 tons to 402 tons;
- flight range increased, including for cargo of 120 tons from 4650 km to 5400 km;
- aircraft assigned service life is increased to 24,000 flight hours; works on its extension up to 50 000 flight hours/10 000 flights/45 years service life are being performed;
- the new PO-500 schedule of maintenance has been introduced (maintenance every 500 flight hours);
- onboard crane equipment providing loading-unloading operations of a single piece of cargo up to 40 tons weight;
- fuselage structure had been strengthened to enable airlift of a single piece of cargo up to 150 tons weight;
- Navigation System and radar have been updated;
- digital anti-skid braking system allowing to reduce landing distance up to 30% have been installed;
- crew reduced from 6 to 4 members, and the comfort level of the crew rest cabin has been improved;
- military oxygen equipment has been exchanged for the civil one;
- reinforced wheels and tires have been installed;
- new devices for engine control have been installed;
- modernized systems of reverse control and engine vibration state monitoring have been developed;
- the SRPPZ-2000 ground proximity warning system installed;
- A826 inertial navigation system upgraded;
- Enhanced observation (EHS) has been applied;
- Mail Minimum Equipment List has been developed and is now being implemented
On June 19, 2007, the AN-124-100M-150 obtained an Annex to the Type Certificate issued by Aviation Register of the Interstate Aviation Committee (AR IAC) and an updated Type Certificate was obtained for the AN-124-100 aircraft issued by State Aviation Authority of Ukraine.
AR IAC issued an Annex to the Type Certificate for the AN-124-100, which confirms extension of rated service life up to 50,000 flight hours, 10,000 flights, 45 years. Initially, Ruslans’ assigned service life was 25 years. So, the aircraft has obtained the second life. It will continue operation in the market of oversized and extra-heavy cargo air transportation.
Zaporozhye IVCHENKO-PROGRESS Engine Design Bureau (Ukraine) had fulfilled works to improve reliability, gas-dynamic stability, and service life of the D-18T engine series 3. Development of the D-18Т series 4, 3M with digital control system of FADEC type, as well as D-18Т series 5 is in progress.