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Volga-Dnepr begins flying its grounded An-124s again

written by Adam Thorn | January 4, 2021

Volga-Dnepr has begun returning its grounded An-124s to the skies following an apparent engine failure incident last November.

Konstantin Vekshin, the business’ chief commercial officer, said the return of the aircraft would happen incrementally and added the operator would still “take its time” to return the full fleet of 12 to service.

It follows the Volga-Dnepr Airlines Antonov An-124 being forced to make an emergency landing in Novosibirsk, Russia, shortly after take-off. The aircraft, RA-82042, had 14 people and 84 tonnes of cargo on board and subsequently overshot the runway by around 200 metres.

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After the incident, the airline took the decision to ground the entire fleet but now says it has put the planes through an exhaustive array of technical checks.

“It appears that we have been able to re-start our An-124-100 operations before the end of this year,” said Vekshin in a statement. “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.”

World of Aviation reported at the time how witnesses on the ground reported sighting two of the four engines trailing smoke upon departure.

The incident resulted in a total loss of communication with the aircraft, and the loss of transponder signals. Engine shrapnel from the damaged plane fell through the roof of a warehouse near the airport but didn’t cause any injuries.

According to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft suffered “substantial damage” to its wings and landing gear following its return to the ground, while its second engine was missing its engine inlet.

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“The inboard left wing slats, as well as the left hand fuselage, were penetrated by debris at multiple locations near the wing root,” the Herald added.

A statement released by Volga-Dnepr at the time said, “The plane was operating a charter flight from Seoul to Vienna with a tech stop in Novosibirsk with 84 tons of automotive spare parts. The airline’s technical support crew with essential equipment immediately flew to Novosibirsk to evaluate and rectify any consequences.”

Meanwhile, Igor Aksenov, general director of Volga-Dnepr, commented, “We are co-operating with the aviation authorities and Novosibirsk Airport with respect to this event and will thoroughly analyse the situation accordingly.”

West Siberia’s Transport Prosecution Office reportedly opened an investigation into the accident.

Additional reporting by Hannah Dowling. 

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