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PICTURE: Institute shows off concept for An-124 successor

Russian aerodynamics researchers have unveiled a concept for a new heavy transport aircraft to succeed the Antonov An-124.

The aircraft has been tentatively designated 'Slon' – the Russian term for 'elephant' – and is outwardly similar to the An-124 in appearance, with a high-wing, four-engined layout, nose-loading capability and a low horizontal stabiliser.

Moscow's Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) states that the aircraft would able to transport 150t of freight over a range of up to 3,780nm (7,000km), operating off a 3,000m (9,840ft) runway.

But it would be able to handle a maximum commercial load of 180t – with which it could operate over a distance of 2,645nm.

The institute says this performance means the aircraft could compete not only with the An-124 but also more modern freighters including the Boeing 747-8F.

It states that the main geometric and weight parameters of the concept aircraft "have been determined" and that two variants are being considered, with differing deck widths.

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TsAGI adds that it has carried out initial calculations of take-off, cruise, and landing characteristics for both variants.

The possibility of restarting An-124 production, with upgraded capabilities, has long been discussed within the Russian air transport industry.

During the recent MAKS air show in Moscow, freight specialist Volga-Dnepr outlined its requirements for a replacement for the An-124 – of which it operates a dozen.

It stated that a new freighter needs to be 35-40% more efficient, with a payload capability of up to 170t.

TsAGI points out that a heavy transport needs to be compatible, in economic terms, with cargo versions of passenger aircraft models.

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