TechEurope develops successor to world's largest transport aircraft

Europe develops successor to world's largest transport aircraft

An-124 Rusłan
An-124 Rusłan
Images source: © Getty Images | NurPhoto
Łukasz Michalik

29 June 2024 17:31

Under the ESOCA programme, the European aviation industry is developing a successor to the world's largest transport aircraft, the An-124 Ruslan.

Following the destruction of the only An-225 Mriya aircraft by the Russians, the An-124 Ruslan is now the largest transport aircraft in the world. The design was developed in the Soviet Union during the late 1970s and early 1980s, with serial production starting in 1985.

The Ruslan has a fuselage length of 69 metres and a wingspan exceeding 73 metres. It can carry loads of up to 135,000 kilograms (a world record from 1993 to 2009). Its large cargo hold, equipped with cranes capable of handling 20,000-kilogram loads, facilitates loading and unloading.

Successor to the An-124 Ruslan aircraft

Although An-124 aircraft still fulfil their roles, their limited availability is problematic. Single Ruslan aircraft fly under the flags of several countries, but Russia and Ukraine manage the majority of this fleet.

Because renting Russian aircraft is politically unfeasible, and Ukrainian and Russian aircraft are becoming increasingly unavailable due to wear and a lack of proper maintenance, Europe needs to develop its heavy transport aircraft.

The new machine's primary purpose will be strategic military transport, and to develop an aircraft with such capabilities, the European Commission launched the ESOCA (European eco-System for Outsized Cargo Airlift) programme.

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