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CARGO AIRCRAFT

ANTONOV AN-124

Antonov An-124

ABOUT THIS AIRCRAFT

The An-124 (full name Antonov An-124 Ruslan) is one of the largest aircraft in the world, specifically designed for carrying heavy or bulky loads. It is equipped with a high volume of cargo capacity, drive-on loading ramps and a variety of built-in freight handling equipment. The jet was manufactured between 1982 and 2014, and in total 55 were built. There are currently 26 civilian models in operation.

The cargo transport behemoth, which has the NATO reporting name “Condor”, was designed in the 1980s in the Ukrainian SSR, part of the Soviet Union (USSR). At the time it was the world's heaviest gross weight production cargo airplane, a position the An-124 kept for decades until the arrival of the Boeing 747-8F in 2010. The An-124 remains the largest military transport aircraft in the world.

The An-124 was designed for long-range delivery and air-dropping heavy or bulky cargo, including machines, equipment and troops. The jet was a key player in Cold War aviation; a strategic coup for the Soviets that won international attention and a number of world records.

PAST AND PRESENT

During the 1970s, the Military Transport Aviation arm of the Soviet Air Forces had a shortfall in aircraft capable of bearing heavy and bulky loads. Its largest planes consisted of about 50 Antonov An-22 turboprops, which were used heavily in tactical roles.

The An-124 was manufactured by Aviastar-SP (Russia) and the Kiev Aviation Plant AVIANT (Ukraine). In addition to this, more than 100 factories were contracted to produce parts for the aircraft.

Design work started in 1971 and construction commenced two years later. The An-124’s maiden flight was in December 1982, and it entered service in January 1986. The jet was first showcased at the Paris Air Show in 1985, and was accredited with civil certification in 1992.

MANUFACTURER

The Antonov State Company (formerly the Antonov Aeronautical Scientific-Technical Complex and the Antonov Design Bureau) was originally a Soviet (and later a Ukrainian) aircraft manufacturing and services company, founded in 1946 and dissolved in 2016.

Antonov manufactured passenger, cargo and special purpose aircraft. It was established in Novosibirsk in 1946 as a top-secret Soviet bureau. In 1952, Antonov relocated to Kiev, Ukraine, where it remained for the rest of its history. Antonov was a key player in the Soviet Union’s competition for aerospace technology during the Cold War arms race.

Antonov used the model prefix An-, and built approximately 22,000 aircraft in total. Thousands of its aircraft still operate, especially in the countries of the former Soviet Union and in the developing world.

BUYING AN ANTONOV AN-124

Though the number of aircraft manufactured was fairly small, An-124s do still appear for sale. The aircraft is cheaper than comparable American models, though weaker in terms of safety features. At present, the estimated prince for an An-124 is between $50 and $90 million US.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • An Antonov An-124 carried the Obelisk of Axum, a 160-tonne granite stele (obelisk), from Italy to Ethiopia in 2005. This stele was probably erected during the 4th century A.D. in the Kingdom of Aksum, an ancient civilization located in present-day Ethiopia. Following the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in World War II, it was taken to Rome as war spoils in 1937. The Obelisk of Axsum’s journey home to Ethiopia in an An-124 was immortalized on an Ethiopian postage stamp.

  • In its early years, the An-124 scored numerous points for the Soviet Union in the Cold War by setting a string of 30 world records. These including heaviest commercial load ever carried by air, largest aircraft, and largest payload lifted to the greatest height. According to Antonov, the An-124 has carried refugees and victims of natural disasters, and transported Christmas trees, racehorses, military tanks, cruise yachts, concert instruments, reconnaissance aircraft, and gold bars.

If you would like to charter an Antonov An-124 Ruslan, please visit our cargo charter page.

AIRCRAFT LAYOUT

Diagram of Antonov An-124

AIRCRAFT IMAGES

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