August 19 - Russia's Volga-Dnepr Group and Antonov Company of the Ukraine have reached an agreement to upgrade the first of Volga-Dnepr's fleet of AN-124-100 'Ruslan' freighters to a modernised AN-124-111VD standard in the latest step towards relaunching

Dmytro Kiva , president and general designer of Antonov , and Alexey Isaikin , president of Volga-Dnepr Group , signed three documents at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2011 in Moscow covering the decision on aircraft modernisation, the specifications for research and development and the schedule for R&D. 

The technical specifications in the agreement envisage that the modernised AN-124-111VD will have a take-off weight of 402 tons, a cargo lift capacity of 150 tons, a flight range of at least 5,000 km with a 120 tons payload and a minimum crew of three persons. Avionics and some of the aircraft systems will be replaced with digital systems. 

The aircraft will be equipped with new 3M series D-18T engines with the FADEC digital control system. The engine lifetime will be equal to 50,000 hours and 11,111 cycles. Environmental characteristics of the engines will be upgraded to meet international standards in accordance with emission levels stated in the ICAO Annex 16 volume 2 requirements. The AN-124-111VD will also comply with the noise requirements of ICAO Chapter 4 Annex 16. 

Ultimately, the AN-124-111VD lifetime will be expanded up to 60,000 flying hours and 12,000 typical flights, giving it a service life of up to 50 years. 

The development work which will be conducted during the modernisation of the first Volga-Dnepr Airlines aircraft will act as the main research and development programme for the eventual launch of production of a new-build AN-124-300freighter. 

Volga-Dnepr Group is investing in the deep modernisation of the AN-124-100 'Ruslan' based on the strategic market requirements for oversize and heavy cargo transportation. In doing so, the Group has also taken into consideration ICAO's future requirements and the necessity to upgrade the operating performance characteristics of the aircraft.