Volga-Dnepr chief backs production of An-124

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Outsize freight carrier Volga-Dnepr's chief Alexei Isaikin has defended the company spearheading the resumption of Antonov An-124 production after Russia's newly formed consolidated aerospace company United Aircraft (OAK) voiced doubts over the plan, writes David Kaminski-Morrow.

Volga-Dnepr has been working to establish a management organisation to oversee the effort and encourage potential private investors to help fund the programme.

OAK expressed scepticism over the business case earlier this year, suggesting that annual production would amount to just one or two An-124s. But Isaikin insists the project is necessary. "In the last 15 years, the growth has been dynamic," he says. "The prepared forecast up to 2030 shows business for ramp aircraft [such as the An-124 and Ilyushin Il-76] will increase by 8-9% each year."

The carrier is looking to restart production from 2011, with an initial batch of 15-20 modernised An-124-100M-150s, and is forecasting the sale of 50 aircraft - of which it would acquire 20-25 examples - over the first production stage. A second stage would see production switch to the improved An-124-300.

Meanwhile, Russia is to boost state financial backing for its aerospace industry after completing its consolidation within the framework of OAK.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has approved the appointment of defence minister Sergei Ivanov as chairman of the board of directors at OAK and RSK MiG general director Aleksei Fiodorov as OAK chairman of the control board.

The merger of the industry under the OAK umbrella is expected to be completed in April.