Volga-Dnepr Brings Back An-124s Into Service

Volga-Dnepr has brought back an An-124 into commercial service. After grounding the fleet earlier, before the start of the year, the cargo carrier brought back one of the massive Antonov cargo aircraft to support global supply chains and move around vital freight.

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Volga-Dnepr has brought its first An-124 back into commercial service. Photo: Getty Images

Volga-Dnepr returns the An-124 to commercial service

By December 29th, Volga-Dnepr had already returned one An-124 to commercial cargo services. The aircraft underwent an exhaustive array of technical checks and the execution of service directives before returning to service.

Konstantin Vekshin, Chief Commercial Director at Volga-Dnepr, stated the following in a press release viewed by Simple Flying:

“It appears that we have been able to re-start our An-124-100 operations before the end of this year. We are in the process of diligent execution of the service directives, the technical checks are on the right track. As expected, our first An-124-100 is back in the air again. The ultimate return will be incremental and we will still take our time to follow the guidelines reflected in the service directives.”

Volga-Dnepr has been working on relaunching An-124 services after grounding the aircraft. The massive cargo aircraft is required for special cargo missions, which forms one of the backbones of Volga-Dnepr’s operations.

Why was the An-124 fleet grounded?

In mid-November, a Volga-Dnepr An-124 flying from Novosibirsk to Vienna with a heavy cargo load of spare care parts took off, though suffered some issues after takeoff. The plane returned to the runway with smoke coming from one of the plane’s engines. Debris from a fractured turbine damaged cabling in the aircraft. The aircraft landed, though it had difficulty coming to a stop. It ended up going over the runway length, where it came to rest in some snow and dirt. The aircraft suffered plenty of damage.

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The Antonov An-124 shot off a runway following an inflight engine issue, damaging much of the plane. Photo: Getty Images

Tanks had to remove the aircraft. The size of the aircraft requires some heavy lifting to get the plane away from active operations areas.

In the wake of the crisis, Volga-Dnepr decided to ground all of the An-124s in its fleet. The airline had concerns over such an incident happening again to one of its aircraft. Over the past month, the airline has been working with its team and regulatory officials to figure out the extent of the issue and what Volga-Dnepr needed to do to get the planes back in service.

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The incident was serious and costly, leading Volga-Dnepr to ground its An-124 fleet. Photo: Getty Images

The incident’s timing was quite unfortunate, as Volga-Dnepr stopped An-124 operations ahead of the busy pre-Christmas cargo season. However, given the ongoing crisis, the carrier is still getting plenty of business and is excited to get these planes back in commercial service.

About Volga-Dnepr

A Russian carrier, the cargo airline bills itself as an expert in heavy and oversized cargo operations. The Volga-Dnepr Group has several subsidiaries aside from Volga-Dnepr Airlines, including AirBridgeCargo.

Volga-Dnepr Group carriers operate the An-124, Ilyushin Il-76, Boeing 747-400F, 747-8F, 737-400SFs, and 737-800BCFs. Volga-Dnepr Airlines itself only operates the Antonov An-124 and Ilyushin Il-76 for heavy cargo operations.

Are you glad to see the An-124s come back into commercial cargo service? Let us know in the comments!