Volga-Dnepr Airlines confirms grounding of Antonov An-124

An-124 of Volga-Dnepr Airlines at Hamburg Airport. Photo: © Cornelius Grossmann

Following several media reports, Volga-Dnepr Airlines has confirmed on Friday that it is temporarily suspending operations of its Antonov An-124 fleet.

The airline is grounding the aircraft type until further notice following an incident involving one An-124 at Tolmachevo Airport in Novosibirsk earlier this month. Volga-Dnepr says the precautionary grounding came into effect on Wednesday, November 25.

On the 13th of November 2020 soon after take off the airplane suffered the uncontained engine fan disk failure of series D-18T which resulted in engine failure and the loss of control systems. Carrying 84 tons of cargo with full fuel tanks, suffering engine failure and loss of control elements, the crew managed to avert the disaster, make a 180-degree, land and keep the plane on the runway, skidding off the runway.Volga-Dnepr Airlines

Russia’s Federal Agency for Air Transport (Rosaviatsiya) is currently investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, Volga-Dnepr Airlines says it “takes all the actions to fulfil contractual obligations” of existing customers. The Soviet-, and later Ukrainian-built An-124 is used for oversize air cargo that cannot be transported by common cargo aircraft types. It is therefore unclear how the Russian airline plans to replace the unique capabilities of its twelve An-124.

There are only few commercial operators of the type, with the only two large ones being Volga-Dnepr Airlines and Ukrainian Antonov Airlines. The latter continues to fly the aircraft.

Antonov Airlines is the only major competitor for operating cargo aircraft of this size. Photo: © Phillip Rohmberger / IFN