News today from Russia demonstrates that very large airplanes continue to see demand. This news is good for both the OEM and its small cadre of customers. The AN-124 is unique. The only comparable airplane is the C-5 and it is not available for commercial use. But the Ruslan (An-124) is and does it tasks very well. Of course it is ironic that the airplane was created as the Soviet strategic airlifter to move military equipment around in case of a conflict with NATO or the West. Today NATO is the largest customer of the airplane’s services and the Soviets don’t exist anymore.
But the AN-124 is in a specialized niche. Global demand for airplanes like this is too small for anyone else to compete. Had the Soviets not created the airplane in the first place it is unlikely that anyone would create one now. That said the AN-124 is likely to see work for years to come and justify Antonov’s upgrades. As turbofan engines grow bigger, there are going to few air transports that can move giant engines from engine makers to airplane builders. The AN-124 has something of a monopoly.
© 2013, Addison Schonland. All rights reserved.