An-124, Il-96, Tu-204: Russia is making 11 parked jets afloat

In order to intercept the bloodletting caused by Western sanctions, Russia does not just want to build its own new aircraft. Decommissioned jets should also intervene again. The latest proposal is specifically about eleven aircraft – including an Antonov An-124.

Hardly a day goes by without new ideas from Russia for converting the domestic airliner fleets. Of course, it is primarily about new jets from Russian factories, such as the Irkut MS-21, the Sukhoi Superjet and the somewhat aging Tupolev Tu-214. Their production should ramp up as quickly as possible in order to be able to ban as many Western short- and medium-haul jets as possible from the inventory of Russian airlines by 2030. Nevertheless, the capacities of the aircraft industry in Russia are limited, and the MS-21 lighthouse project, which was designed with a lot of know-how from abroad, was set back years by western sanctions. Therefore, in addition to the new aircraft, old jets that have already been decommissioned should also be given a new chance.

Dmitry Zherdin (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Russian government wants to reactivate a total of eight decommissioned Tu-204 and Tu-214 (photo) and bring them back to commercial service.

government proposal

As early as May, Russian media had reported on the plans of the privately run Utair, which apparently wants to reactivate several parked Yakovlev Yak-40 and Yak-42. It remains to be seen whether this will actually happen, but for the first time there is a similar proposal from the Russian government, which also deals with the revitalization of older, domestic airliners. According to the Interfax news agency, the Ministry of Industry and Trade wants to spend 15.4 billion rubles (275 million euros) to breathe new life into a total of eleven used aircraft lying dormant in Russia. According to Interfax, this involves eight medium-haul Tu-204/214 jets, two long-haul four-engine Ilyushin Il-96 aircraft and a large freighter Antonov An-124. They should all return “to commercial operations” with the money provided.


Two parked Il-96 should also get a second chance.

New and used

The Russian government wants to finance the venture by redistributing budget funds. A part of the amount is earmarked for the “modernization of systems and assemblies of the Tu-214 with subsequent approval of the changed type certification for the aircraft,” Interfax quoted an unnamed insider as saying. With Russia’s government planning to ramp up production of new Tu-214s, which is currently at a low level, to ten units per year and thus build a total of 70 new examples by 2030, the reactivation of eight more Tu-204/214s would mean almost an entire year’s production . The same applies to the Il-96, whose production rate is expected to be two to three aircraft per year.

Where does the An-124 come from?

Also interesting is the plan for the restoration of an An-124, the only commercial operator of which in Russia is the Volga-Dnepr Group. However, their An-124 fleet has been severely decimated by Western sanctions, with three parked planes in Leipzig and one in Toronto chained up by local authorities in accordance with a Ukrainian court order. It is unclear whether, and if so when, the giant freighters can return to Russia.

The An-124 mentioned in the government plans could be the RA-82042 that had an accident in Novosibirsk at the end of 2020 and has been waiting there for repair or scrapping since its emergency landing at Tomalchevo Airport. This is of course not confirmed. It is also not known where the remaining ten aircraft are supposed to come from. However, there seems to be enough possibilities. According to the database, ten Il-96s alone are currently mothballed in Russia. There are said to be more than 20 of the Tu-204, which was produced in somewhat larger numbers, and its derivative Tu-214.