Heavylift / Breakbulk

  • Russian aircraft serve heavylift operators in the icy northern wastes.

14.12.2015 By: Andreas Haug

Artikel Nummer: 12733

Polar projects

It is well known that many a Russian’s rather special relationship with winter and snow only really allows him to warm up when the temperature drops below zero. This, combined with the air cargo know-how of the country’s heavylift experts, resulted in two rather interesting news items making the rounds recently.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines probably became the only airline to serve all of the world’s seven continents recently when a Volga-Dnepr Ilyushin IL-76TD-90VD landed on an ice airfield in the Antarctic for the first time. The move opens up opportunities to support exploration projects on the icy continent.


In the current southern summer the freighter completed a series of runs on the runway of the airfield of the Novolazarevskaya Antarctic research station, which was founded in 1951 and whose runway is made only of ice. The former Soviet and now Russian establishment is located around 80 km from the coast in Queen Maud Land, a region claimed by Norway. The number of inhabitants in Novolazarevskaya rarely rises above 70.


A suitable solution

The tests were designed to check performance capability and define the four engines’ reverse-thrust application range. The checks will enable the airline to make amendments to the IL-76TD-90VD’s airplane flight manual for ice airfield ope­ra­tions. Once the changes to the flight manual have been made the IL-76 will be approved to fly to Antarctic airfields.


Georgy Sokolov, the sales director of Volga-Dnepr UK, which specialises in heavy and oversized airfreight consignments, told the media that «by obtaining approval to fly to regions with severe weather conditions we’re greatly expanding Volga-Dnepr Airlines’ operating boundaries.» The exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic is currently underway, the manager added, and his company wants to play a central role in the concomitant logistics operations.


As the IL-76TD-90VD already meets Icao’s existing and advanced requirements and – «particularly importantly» ­according to Sokolov – is currently also being fitted with environment-friendly engines, it is expected to become a key transport solution for the corporation’s customers active in this field. The airline has already started implementing a ­major project for Antarctic Logistics Centre International, a South African service provider to and from the continent that operates links between Cape Town and the Antarctic in the austral summer.


Rotors spinning in Eastern Siberia

The Ulan-Ude aviation plant, which is a part of the entity Russian Helicopters, which in turn is a part of the state-owned corporation Rostec, recently celebrated the acceptance of its Mi-8AMTSh-VA heli­copter by the Russian defence mini­stry. The unit is the first Arctic helicopter that was developed especially for operations in the north of Russia, in temperatures of –40°C and lower. The helicopter is fitted with equipment that enables it to operate without a satellite signal in low temperatures and in the polar night, where orientation is difficult and radio links unreliable.


Russian Helicopters CEO ­Alexander Mikheev said that «the insights we’ve come up with in the course of developing, producing and testing the Mi-8AMTSh-VA in the far north are also going to be incorporated into the commercial model of the helicopter.» The overarching aim is clear to Mikheev. «The unit is crucial to de­ve­loping the transport infrastructure in northern regions, and is also useful for offshore work carried out by firms working in the oil and gas sector.»


The contract for the delivery of helicopters to carry out operations as part of the defence ministry’s Arctic groupings was signed with the Russian government’s military department in February. In addition to the Russian armed forces, other national law enforcement agencies have also shown an interest in acquiring the helicopter.