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.
Wonder why no one has approached DOD with a proposal to privatize a small fleet of C-5s? Evergreen would be the usual suspect.
Perhaps the cost would be too high? The re-engined C5s look like performing way better than the C5Bs. Yet there are many hulks in Yuma that could have been rescued. OTH the market is small – perhaps too small to justify this without state funding support. Which is what Russia offers.
“OTH the market is small – perhaps too small to justify this without state funding support. Which is what Russia offers.”
I think everything C-5 has always been 100% state funded by the enormous DoD budgets. Contrary to the An-124s, that have seen wide spread commercial use.
Boeing warns about unclaimed 747-8 production slots after 2013.