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April 12, 2024
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It appears that Russia is trying to bring control of the AN-124 under Russian control.  The problem with this move is that the AN-124 is made by Antonov which is a Ukrainian company.  As is well known, Russia and Ukraine are no longer as tight as they once were.

Antonov is quite correct in asserting its rights.  Russia does have a lot of AN-124s in operation. Indeed, we understand that Russia may also have some interest in taking control of Volga-Dnepr as this company has a dozen AN-124s.  The AN-124 is a unique freighter, and Russia has made regular use of them airlifting equipment and people to Syria.  Without Antonov support, Russia might be running into operational limits on their AN-124s.

Antonov has kept the aircraft very busy doing contract work in the west – for the UN as well as the OEMs.  Antonov has its own airline (Antonov Airlines) operating their AN-124s.  The company’s interest in keeping the aircraft updated is illustrated by their decision to upgrade its engines.  Were the financial and political impact less onerous, Antonov (and Russian operators) might have considered doing a re-engine with western suppliers.  The current Progress D-18T has 51,600 pounds of thrust.  Western equivalents include a P&W PW4094 or a GE CF6.  We have heard that there is Ukrainian interest in the CF6, but of course they don’t have the funding.  The AN-124 market is also too limited to excite GE to cover the development.

The fact is though that Antonov is clearly still working on their AN-124.  They have not abandoned the program, which would give Russia the right to claim program control.   Unfortunately Antonov is in a tough position, but has to assert its IP.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

9 thoughts on “Ukraine and Russia spar over the AN-124

  1. The AN-124 is not only busy for the UN and in the out-sized cargo business. It also has been a cornerstone in the logistics of the German Forces in Afghanistan and others European missions as well. The only strategic airlift capability in Europe is the NATO Heavylift Air Wing with three C-17. The eight Royal Air Force C-17 are busy supporting the British troops. So the move to take control of Volga-Dnjepr would affect the ability of European countries in executing peacekeeping missions in other parts of the world. Which certainly is an intended side effect. The AN-124 is vital for the west. Therefor it would take a lot of sense to support Antonov’s re-engining plans financially. Every other option would be much, much more costly.

  2. In addition, the AN-124 is used to carry C Series fuselages from the Belfast factory to Bombardier’s final assembly facility in Mirabel, Québec. If pasting was not blocked in these comments (why?), I would paste a link to a Youtube video showing a C Series fuselage coming out of an An-124 in Mirabel

    Search youtube for volga-dnepr taxi departure ymx

  3. Under the Soviet system, Antonov did design the 124 but production or final assembly was then passed on to a different aircraft plant, which was Aviastar in Ulyanovsk plus at the plant in Kiev. In 2008 production was to be restarted by both Antonov and Aviastar together, which for obvious reasons wont now occur.
    As it was designed and built before the breakup of the Soviet Union, the IP isnt so clear

  4. Fuselages were supposed to be made by AVIC in China, but because of quality problems, BBD has to build some fuselages in Belfast, even for production aircraft. All fuselages for prototypes were buit in Belfast.

  5. Right now its starting to look like all fuse (for the entire production run) will be built in Belfast.

    Supposedly the quality from AVIC simply isn’t coming up to standards.

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