Antonov is talking to EADS and "other potential major US and European partners" about re-starting production of an upgraded version of the An-124-100 Ruslan heavylift transport after identifying a market for up to 80 aircraft over the next 25 years.

Talks with Russia's Volga Dniepr, its main customer, on a business plan for the go-ahead have identified a need for $407 million worth of funding to develop the An-124-100M variant, which would have a 150t maximum cargo capacity against the current -124-100's 120t and a 550km range increase, to 5,200km (2,800nm).

Anotonv deputy general designer Alexander Kiva says there is "a real basis for co-operation with Russia, Europe and the USA".


He adds that the emphasis is on "power and avionics" but declines to say whether this means exchanging the Lotarev Progress D-18T engines with western powerplants. The Antonov literature shows a reduction in the number of crewmembers from six to four, implying a new digital cockpit.

"We had a visit from EADS two weeks ago and discussed joint involvement in resumed production of the An-124," says Kiva. "This is about maintaining the monopoly of the Ukraine and Russia in large freighters."

At present there are 49 An-124s in service, 28 of which are used as commercial freighters. Antonov believes there is a market for around 30 aircraft with "existing customers" and a further 50 with "potential customers".

Source: Flight Daily News