The United Aircraft Corporation has re-launched production of the An-124 transport at a ceremony in Russia.
Attended by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the occasion brought together current and prospective operators of the aircraft, many of whom claimed the economics of carrying oversized cargo by air far outweigh that of sea transport.
“BP used our 124s to ship oil rigs to a deposit in Colombia,” Aleksey Isaikin, president of Volga-Dnepr told media. “They say it worked out tens of times cheaper than by boat. But we desperately need new planes to fill demand.”
The UAC has been backed by the Russian government to offer up to 70 new build An-124-100s from late 2010. The new aircraft will feature more efficient engines and modern digital avionics.
Many armed forces, including Australia, also wet lease An-124s to assist in surge deployments of outsize equipment.