Russian outsize cargo carrier Polet Airlines has received the first of five ex-military Antonov An-124 Ruslan freighters following major overhaul and conversion to the civil An-124-100 standard by Aviastar.

The ex-Russian air force aircraft had amassed 1,400h before being grounded and cannibalised. Polet has invested over $20 million to have Aviastar upgrade the aircraft at its plant in Ulyanovsk, including the purchase of four new ZMKBD-18T Series 3 engines.

The modified aircraft has been brought up to the latest An-124-100 production standard and it complies with Chapter 3 noise regulations and North Atlantic reduced vertical separation minima requirements.

A second ex-air force An-124 will be delivered to Polet in October and three more in 2002. Two of these will be An-124-100VS models which will be equipped to deploy the 100t launch vehicle being developed by the Air Launch Aerospace (ALAC) joint venture from the rear ramps.

Polet, which has two An-124s already in service, received the five unserviceable An-124s last year under a Russian Government order, for employment in the ALAC project. Polet has also placed an order with Aviastar for a new Ruslan for delivery in 2003. A quarter of the funding for the new aircraft is coming from Polet's own resources, with the rest being provided through a credit line opened by Russian banks, primarily Vneshtorgbank.

Source: Flight International