An-124 Production not Economically Viable
Of the 36 issued Ulyanovsk Aircraft Plant "Ruslan" is currently on the market operates 21 commercial cargo planes. Of these, 10 belong to the airline "Volga-Dnepr", four - Airlines "Flight" and three - "Antonov airlines."
- The structure of the transport market for the An-124, up to 2011, the share of government contracts accounted for 66 percent, 10 percent is "Aerospace", 5 percent - industrial equipment, nefegazovuyu industry - said vice-president of a charter freight Group of companies "Volga-Dnepr" Valery Gabriel. - Demand steady - transportation for all space launches are planned for two or three years ahead of the three operators, exploiting the "Ruslan". Share of earnings in transportation outsize and heavy cargo in the structure of all the orders is 15-17 per cent. This is the work that no one other than the An-124 can do - no goods can be delivered by any other aircraft. This "piece" of the approximately one billion dollars.
According to Gabriel, the amount of money earned "Ruslan" is decreasing every year. Aircraft in service is more expensive, the proportion of general cargo has fallen to 5-6 percent (previously it was up to 15-17 percent). Transportation on the An-124 become economically unviable.
- If we look at the problem through the eyes of an ordinary businessman, then there are four main issues. Three of them are related to technical unit - says Gabrielle. - First of all, the aircraft does not meet the future requirements of the ICAO (including noise and emissions) if it does not have a new on-board equipment on a digital platform, it will lose the main markets, where he earns about 80 percent of their money - this is Europe, USA , Canada and several other countries. The second - a "cut-off" for the engine thrust at higher temperatures. Seemingly insignificant factor, but on a widespread route that fly all three airlines - "Kabul - Baku" - with an air temperature of 33 degrees, "Ruslan", "pulls" only 10 tons. Ordinary merchant difficult to explain why the documents indicated 120 tonnes, but in reality it's different. In calculating the total price for the customer this figure - just a stone around his neck.
The new requirements
Valery Gabriel led comparison of the two aircraft available to airlines - 124-100 and Boeing-747-400/8F. The cost of transport from "Ruslan" is 40 percent higher. In foreign flight crew - two men in the domestic - six. Renovation and extension of engine life to "Ruslan" is 2595 dollars per flight hour, and "Boeing" - 671 dollar: a difference of 393 percent. TO and airframe life extension in our car costs about $ 830, and "American" - $420. As a result, the total cost of a flight hour "Ruslan" - 33,375 dollars, and "Boeing" - 23,835 dollars. Appreciable difference.
In order to keep the business associated with the carriage of outsize cargo operators are placing new demands. Maximum load capacity upgraded An-124 should be 150 tons compared to the current 120-; range with a cargo of 120 tons - 6-7 thousand kilometers, the crew - two men. It is necessary that the aircraft is in line with future requirements of ICAO to the year 2035-40. In addition, the aircraft must have a digital cockpit, which would "build" function tighter piloting, and its cost-effectiveness should be increased to at least 30 percent. All this, according to the airline, the aircraft will maintain its market positions.
- In the meantime, "Ruslan" today - a "VAZ-2101" in the aviation industry - says technical director of "Volga-Dnepr" Victor Tolmachev.
According to him, the cost of one An-124 for the entire cycle of its operation (60,000 hours), which consists of its original price and maintenance costs, by the end of the resource increases by 18 times. "Boeing" - only four times.