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 North Bay already has a history of serving
Russian aircraft. Russians are comfortable dealing with Canadians, and the
North Bay airport welcomed Russian aircraft such as the IL-76TD in April 2017
that would not be allowed to fly to the U.S. and to/from some international
Canadian airports since the planes do not meet the Stage 3 aircraft noise /
emission requirements. 

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An added benefit
to catering to Russian and Ukrainian airlines is that a number of their key
aircraft such as the IL-76 and AN-124 can be loaded and unloaded through an
integrated ramp and do not require costly upper deck loaders as would
western-built wide-body freighters.


transformation processes in the cargo aviation industry in Eastern Europe since
the 1990s have necessitated the mass conversion of military transport aircraft
into civilian ones and their subsequent use for commercial cargo
transportation. Specific military equipment was removed from the aircraft and
special certification was carried out. Civil modifications of re-equipped and
properly certificated military transport aircraft were named An-124-100 and
IL-76 TD.


Accumulated over
more than two decades, the experience of their use has demonstrated that the
main advantages of air transportation on aircraft of these types are:


• Short delivery

• A high degree of
safety of cargo, which is especially important for high-tech equipment;

• The ability to
deliver to the most difficult and remote geographic regions;

• High efficiency
and a real opportunity to organize a continuous flow of cargo delivery with the
help of air bridges (2-5 aircraft operate in a chain);

• High
professionalism of the crews, due to the scientific, technical and technological
specifics of the transport and other special means used.


The analysis shows
that all of the above is extremely important for transport operations in the
interests of oil, gas and mining industries in various countries. Moreover, the
global experience of unique cargo transportation confirms that it is advisable
for leading mining and oil companies in a number of cases to prefer air
transportation for the following reasons:


• Dimensions and the
weight of cargo do not always correspond to the capabilities of land carriers
(road transport, for example). When assembling and disassembling, the cost of
equipment adjusting is significant and highly undesirable for the customer. In
addition, the cargo cannot always be disassembled;

• The duration of
transportation, mechanical and dynamic impacts (shaking, vibration) inevitably
affect the condition of the goods. Therefore, certain categories of goods
(high-tech equipment, delicate goods) require special protective packaging when
delivered by ground transport;

• Ocean and river
vessels have no restrictions on the dimensions of the cargo being transported,
but the location of the port is often too far from the place of loading, which
inevitably increases the number of overloads;

• For delicate and
high-tech goods (electronics), delivery by air is the preferred and sometimes
the only possible mode of transportation, since the physical conditions of
transportation are much more comfortable.


As the analysis of
the comparative characteristics shows, aircraft of this class, produced in
Russia and Ukraine, remain the clear leaders in terms of carrying capacity. Similar
types of American aircraft exist only in the military version, and MD-17 (civil
modification C-17) is not in active service. At the same time, it is obvious
that successful transportation of unique oversized cargoes (UOC) is possible
only if the high technical capabilities of the aircraft are used harmoniously
with the developed infrastructure of loading and unloading devices.


The fundamentals of air transportation UOC


At present, the
final formation of technologies for air transportation of large-sized and heavy
cargo has not yet been completed. In this segment of the global air cargo
market, only a few airlines offer their services, mainly from Russia and
Ukraine. The leaders of the global market are the company Volga-Dnepr and
Antonov Airlines which accumulated huge intellectual and technological expertise.


The basis for the
successful operation of any aviation company, as well as the level of transport
technologies used by it, is its fleet. Because of the unique performance
characteristics of the AN-124-100 Ruslan transport aircraft, it is the
undisputed leader in the sector of air transportation of oversized and
super-heavy cargoes. The other two AN aircraft are unconditional leaders on the
global market for cargo up to 10 tons ( AN-74 ) and for the medium-tonnage
cargo, up to 45 tons  ( AN-77, see figure
13 ). AN-74 can take off and land on the unpaved strip.


The 24-wheeled
chassis of Ruslan allows lowering the nose or tailing of the fuselage of the
aircraft for convenient loading and unloading, as well as working at airfields
with different types of runway cover. The aircraft has two cargo hatches, nose
and tail, with folding cargo ramps. The dimensions of the cargo hatches
correspond to the dimensions of the cargo cabin.


In accordance with
modern requirements for air carriers of the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO), the An-124-100 aircraft underwent several stages of
modernization, which resulted in the following changes:


• Upgraded VHF
radio communication equipment (Orlan 85 ST radio);

• Got TCAS-2000
(Honeywell) for preventing collisions in the air;

• Obtained the
system of organized tracks ( MNPS and PVSM);


installed (for zone navigation with an accuracy of 5 miles);

• Noise level in
sync with new regulations (ICAO Chapter 3).


Fulfillment of the
specified requirements in full allows carrying out flights in all regions of
the world without restrictions on the most optimal routes.


Requirements for airfields


An-124-100 is able
to fly to any civil airport equipped with minimal radio engineering means and
having a runway with an artificial surface, allowing it to withstand the
maximum weight of the aircraft. There are more than 600 such airports in the
world. It should be noted that the length of the runway, which is necessary for
the takeoff and landing of Ruslan, depends on its takeoff and landing mass.

With special
permits, taking into account the specifics of the performance of the charter
flight, transportation to other airports is also possible.

Loading and
unloading technologies:

The goods admitted
to air transportation are conditionally divided into 2 categories – general and

General (or
standard) cargo represents relatively small loads. It is advisable to integrate
such cargoes into separate blocks weighing up to 20 tons.


Special cargo can
be divided into several categories:


• Mono-loads (from
20 to 50 tons);

• Unique (from 50
to 150 tons) (An-124-100 aircraft transported a drilling rig weighing 135 tons,
a ring ball mill weighing 90 tons, a wheel of hydro turbines weighing up to 110
tons, a chemical reactor weighing 95 tons and other heavy loads);

• Oversized (this
can be relatively light, but large in terms of volume, for example, the model
of the Baikal launch rocket, transported from the Space Centre in Russia to the
aerospace exhibition in France);

• Self-propelled
or non-self-propelled vehicles (tractors, bulldozers, cranes, scrapers,
construction machinery, trucks).

Air transportation
of each unique cargo is an independent engineering task. The weight of the
cargo and its configuration require an individual approach to loading and
unloading operations and fixing it in an aircraft.

The An-124-100 is
equipped with the necessary loading and unloading equipment, allowing UOC
loading / unloading into / from the aircraft.


Inside the cargo
cabin, there are:


• On-board loading
cranes moving along the cabin ceiling (carrying capacity up to 40 tons);

• Horizontal
winches, capable of pulling cargo across the floor;

• Several special
loading and unloading devices that facilitate moving heavy loads in a
horizontal plane;

• Individual
transitional elements (lodges, distribution beams, distribution frames,
strapping trusses), necessary for work with loads of complex configuration;

• Equipment for
the transport of cars and SUVs (40-55 cars at a time, in two levels, as on a
railway platform).


In the most
general form, we can distinguish the following main technological stages of
transportation of large-sized and heavy cargoes on heavy transport aircraft:

• Preparation of
aircraft and equipment for loading;

• Cargo
overloading by means of a lifting mechanism from the transport device to the cargo

• Operations cargo
by loading equipment into the aircraft;

• Mooring cargo in
the cargo cabin of the aircraft;

• Preparation of
the aircraft for takeoff;

• Air transporting
of the cargo;

• Preparation of
aircraft and equipment for unloading;

• Unloading of
cargo by means of loading equipment from the aircraft;

• Cargo
overloading by means of a lifting mechanism from the loading platform to the
transport device.


Speaking about the
technical aspects of transportation of UOC by transport aircraft, it should be
emphasized that the following features of the AN-124-100 Ruslan are unique:


• High carrying

• Possibility to
transport mono-loads (up to 120-150 tons in one block);

• Overall
dimensions of the cargo cabin 6.4 m x 4.4 m x 36.5 m;

• Unique
loading/unloading autonomy (the availability of own loading equipment, ramp
allows flights to unequipped airfields).


The Airline – Customer
operational procedures:


The obligatory
technological stage for air transportation of UOC is the stage of the initial
interaction between the air carrier and the customer. In the process of
negotiation the following things should be checked:

1. An application
for delivery of cargo is being prepared, which has to be accepted by the
commercial service of the airline through any available communication channels
(fax, telephone, SITA, E-mail).

2. The
representative of the commercial service of the air carrier will find out the
details of the forthcoming transportation from the customer. These are the
route of transportation, the nature of the cargo, its weight, the dimensions of
large components, and the total volume of cargo in cubic meters.

3. With the use of
special software, the commercial cost of transportation is promptly calculated,
and the possibility of docking the flight is sought to reduce the cost of the charter
for the customer.

4. Simultaneously
with calculating the cost of the charter, the information about the cargo
(especially concerning the extra heavy and extra-large components) is sent to
the Technical Director’s office to work out the technical feasibility of
carrying out a particular cargo and determining the technology of loading and
unloading operations.

In the case of
transportation of particularly complex, large and / or heavy cargo, the technical
director’s office provides an opinion on the technical feasibility of
transporting a few hours after receiving from the customer detailed information
about each cargo location, including drawings, an indication of the load center
of gravity, possible sling sites and mooring sites. For heavy industrial-wheeled
vehicles, the number of axles and the load per axle are also indicated.

In order to
increase the reliability of the conducted transport operation, the special
manager of the commercial service of the airline must accompany the customer
from the moment of receiving the application to performing transportation.
Practice shows that his duties should include work on the development of the
application, the conclusion of the contract, informing the customer about the
preparation and carrying out of transportation, advising and making
recommendations on hiring the agent at the airports of loading or unloading.


Air cargo
transportation for mining, oil and gas industry


The carried out studies
and calculations show that the inclusion into the logistics chain of An-124-100
Ruslan allows world industrial leaders, especially in mining, oil and gas
industry, accelerate the launch of production facilities and gain additional
advantages not only in areas of their competitive advantage, but also in new

The wide tender
scope of the competition allows to formulate the main criteria by which the
customer must choose an air carrier.


They can be
attributed to:


• the presence of
the airline’s own production and technical base and the ability to create
unique technologies for air transportation of UOC by air;

• the existence
and the reliable operation of a well-functioning flight safety system in the
airline, using on-board flight information recorders to monitor both the state
of aircraft equipment and the work of flight crews;

• a high level of
organization of the air carrier technical maintenance of aircrafts, confirmed
by certificates not only of Russian and Ukrainian, but also of foreign aviation
authorities and their inspections;

• high business
reputation of Volga-Dnepr and Antonov Airlines in the world.



The technical
characteristics of the An-124-100 aircraft make it possible to conduct unique
transport operations on the freight transportation market – ultra-long and
rapid movement of large-scale industrial equipment for mining, oil and gas
industry, including drilling equipment, gas compressors, pipes, oil filters,
gas generators, etc.

The impressive
volume of the Ruslan cargo cabin is capable of accommodating most of the oil
and gas equipment produced in various countries without dismantling, and the
ability of the aircraft to lift loads of 120-150 tons makes it an indispensable
vehicle for delivering extra-heavy cargoes to remote mining and oil-and-gas
producing regions.

In 2001,
Volga-Dnepr’s heavy transport aircraft transported two units of the oil
treatment complex to the company Severnaya Neft in Russia from Canada.
Manufactured by the Canadian firm Foremost (formerly Maloney Industries), the
units were delivered by sea from Canada to the port of St. Petersburg in
Russia. Two An-124-100 made further transportation of bulky cargo to Usinsk,

The main cargo of
22.35 m x 3.25 m x 3.66 m and weighing more than 42 tons was loaded using
special loading equipment into the aircraft without the assistance of
additional airport’s special equipment. This operation confirmed that the
availability of such equipment makes the aircraft highly autonomous,
accelerates and simplifies the operations of loading and unloading and allows
working at airports with undeveloped infrastructure.

The dynamics of
expanding the use of heavy transport aviation facilities by enterprises of the
Russian oil and gas complex make it possible to forecast a significant increase
in freight transportation in the short term.


Prospects for the
development of air transportation technologies:

In transportation
of bulky and heavy cargo, aviation is quite competitive. That is why industrial
logistics now includes the aviation transport component.

For the next 30
years, experts predict an increase in demand for air cargo of unique oversized
cargo at the level of 10-12% per year, which is higher than the latest
forecasts for the freight market as a whole (6-8%).


The main factors
determining such growth are:


• development and
globalization of the world economy, including reduction in the life cycle of
high technology products;

• overcoming
customers’ psychological barrier in favor of UOC air delivery;

• expansion of the
capabilities of cargo aircraft;

• creation of
logistics schemes using a combination of cargo planes and other delivery
vehicles of UOC.


All these factors
can lead to an increase in the share of air transport in the total volume of
the market for the transportation of unique oversized cargo from the current
1.4% to 10%.

If this forecast
is confirmed, the capabilities of Antonov and Volga-Dnepr aircraft will be
expanded by:






A. In the group of ramp aircraft:


• modernization of
the existing cargo ramp aircraft An-124-100 and IL-76;

• introduction of
An-70 and An-178 aircraft;

• commercial
application of the An-225 for special tasks;

• creation of a
new cargo plane XXL-Plane, which has absorbed the best from its predecessors,
with the optimal range of flight at maximum load.


B. In the group of non-ramp aircraft:


• the creation of
the Super Beluga A 340 aircraft in addition to the Beluga A300-600ST as a
special vehicle.




The core of the Volga-Dnepr aircraft fleet is
12 ramp aircraft An-124-100 Ruslan. Due to its unique technical
characteristics, the heavy cargo plane An-124-100 is the undisputed leader in
the sector of air transportation of unique, large-sized and super-heavy

The dimensions and volume of the cargo cabin
are optimally combined with the cargo capacity and range of the aircraft, which
allows transportation of loads weighing up to 120 tons without dismantling

24-wheeled chassis of Ruslan allows to
“squat” the aircraft nose of the fuselage for ease of loading and
unloading, as well as work on airfields with different types of runway covering.

The aircraft has two cargo hatchways – bow and
tail – with folding cargo ramps. The dimensions of the cargo hatches correspond
to the dimensions of the cargo cabin. The unique loading equipment developed by
Volga-Dnepr specialists and the implementation of comprehensive programs to
improve the management of transportation of non-standard goods most effectively
and efficiently, in full compliance with the requirements of the International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Another component of the Volga-Dnepr’s success
in the international market of cargo charter flights is the Il-76 ramp
aircraft, one of the most popular and efficient aircraft of the cargo sector,
rightly called the workhorse of the world cargo aviation. To date, Volga-Dnepr
has operated five upgraded IL-76TD-90VD aircraft, which are performing flights
to any regions of the world.

Today, the IL-76TD-90VD is the most economical
ramp airplane for cargoes weighing from 20 to 50 tons. The cost of transporting
1 ton of cargo by IL-76TD-90VD is two times cheaper than transporting a ton of
cargo by airplane Hercules, which is the closest and, in fact, the only western
competitor of IL-76TD.



During the Study, the Team has considered several
cargo airlines specializing in different kinds of freight traffic. We decided
to analyze them based on the capabilities of the aircraft, which they operate.

As a result, a table has been developed showing aircraft, depending on the
loading pattern, the type of cargo and the airports and airline that operate
these aircraft. After considering all the options, we have focused on the aircraft with ramps that are
in use by Antonov, Volga-Dnepr airlines and some other airlines. This decision
was dictated by the fact that airplanes with an integrated ramp (AN-28, AN-74,
AN-124 and some others) do not need expensive loading equipment, both at the
loading point and at the unloading one. This saves time, money, and other
resources. Moreover, those
airplanes were originally designed for medium- and large-tonnage freight
transportation. A large cargo hatch meets requirements
of most cargoes transported in containers, on pallets, and in bulk, and
accommodates self-propelled and towed machinery without a problem. A sliding cargo hatch ramp
reduces loading/unloading time and does not require special loading/unloading equipment.

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