Russia to resume production of world's largest airplane, Ruslan

Russia will soon resume the production of world’s largest commercial heavy transport plane An-124-100 Ruslan, RIA Novosti news agency reports with reference to the administration of Aviastar-SP Enterprise, which produced the plane before.

It has not been reported when exactly the aircraft maker is going to resume the production of the renowned jumbo jet. The company only said that it was preparing the necessary documents for the government to include the funding the project in Russia’s budget in 2010.

The new production of Ruslan planes will create over 2,300 new jobs at the enterprise. The budgets of all levels will receive the additional four billion rubles as a result of the production.

The world’s largest cargo plane was designed in the USSR at the end of the 1970s. The plane was produced in Ulyanovsk (Russia) and Kiev (Ukraine). Ruslan took off for the first time in 1982. Fifty-six of such jets were produced in total.

Physically, the An-124 is similar to the American Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, but has a 25% larger payload, and in lieu of the Galaxy's T-tail, the An-124 uses a conventional empennage, similar in design to that of the Boeing 747. 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 tons of cargo can be carried in a military An-124: it can also carry 88 passengers in an upper deck behind the wing centre section. However, due to limited pressurization in the main cargo compartment (3.57 PSI), it seldom carries paratroopers.

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, that 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 40,000 flight hours are being performed.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov