Volga-Dnepr Group today celebrates the 80th birthday of Victor Tolmachev, the legendary Chief Designer of the An-124 ‘Ruslan’ and An-225 ‘Mriya’ transport aircraft, to mark his ‘outstanding contribution’ to the world of aviation.
Mr Tolmachev, who continues to serve the industry as Technical Director of Volga-Dnepr and as an advisor to the Group’s President, Alexey Isaikin, is a Doctor of Engineering Science, a Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, and a Member of the International Academy of Authors of Scientific Discoveries and Inventions.
His successful aviation career, spanning more than 50 years, began in 1959 when he graduated with high honours from the Kharkiv Aviation Institute and joined Antonov Design Bureau (now Antonov State Enterprise) in Kiev. At Antonov, he participated in the development, creation and modification of almost every Antonov aircraft, such as the An-2, An-14, An-8, An-10, An-12, An-24, An-22, An-26, An-32 and An-28.
In Soviet aircraft industry history, Victor Tolmachev is best known as one of the designers of the giant An-124 ‘Ruslan’ and An-225 ‘Mriya’ freighter aircraft. In 1971 he was assigned as Lead Designer of the An-124 project and later, in 1985, the USSR Ministry of Aircraft Production appointed him to the position of Chief Designer of both the An-124 and An-225.
The maiden flight of the An-124 ‘Ruslan’ military transport aircraft was performed on December 24, 1982. More than 500 enterprises of the Soviet Union were involved in the production process and the aircraft went on to set 27 world records. As the world’s largest series produced freighter, the An-124 is considered to be the most successful domestic transport aviation project.
In 1989, state financing stopped and the An-124 serial production programme was terminated. The unique operating capabilities of the ‘Ruslan’ aircraft were to be preserved in the global commercial market, however, through the creation of Volga-Dnepr Airlines, and Victor Tolmachev joined Volga-Dnepr as Technical Director in 1991. It took just three months in 1992 for Volga-Dnepr, the Aviastar Production Plant and Antonov Design Bureau to obtain certification of the An-124, which received the factory name of An-124-100.
The outstanding performance characteristics of the ramp loading An-124-100 enabled Volga-Dnepr to create an entirely new market for the global transportation of unique, outsize and heavyweight air cargo. Today, the aircraft remains highly respected for its operating capabilities and performs an indispensable role in international air logistics.
Victor Tolmachev also personally initiated and controlled the development of special loading equipment systems that continue to enable both An-124-100 and the IL-76 freighters to provide transport and logistics solutions beyond the capability of other aircraft.
Victor Tolmachev was awarded the State prize of Ukraine for his design of the An-124. He is also the author of more than 100 scientific publications and inventions.
Volga-Dnepr Group sends its warmest congratulations to Victor Tolmachev on his 80th birthday. His contribution to the development of aviation is respected all over the world. He is known as one of the leading protagonists of the revival of our domestic cargo aviation industry. As Technical Director of Volga-Dnepr Group he has helped to create a whole new world of air logistics possibilities that have brought valuable benefits to customers and consumers across the globe. And, he remains an inspiration to a whole new generation of talented aircraft designers and technical engineers. His legacy, however, is not complete because as Technical Director he continues to supervise the design activities of Volga-Dnepr’s projects to revive serial production of the An-124 and develop the transport aircraft of the future.