The Podolsky District Court of Kiev ordered the seizure of five An-124s operated by Volga-Dnepr Airlines (VI, Ulyanovsk Vostochny) for the alleged unauthorised maintenance checks performed by the Russian airline.

"According to Antonov Design Bureau (ADB, Gostomel), the investigators, and the court, the admission of the An-124 to the further operation is a violation of the provisions of the ICAO Convention on International Civil Aviation and Airworthiness Guidelines. The seizure of property is allowed in order to ensure the safety of physical evidence and compensation for damage caused by the crime," said Roman Marchenko from the Ilyashev & Partners law firm, which represents the Ukrainian manufacturer.

The court acted upon an earlier request submitted by the Main Directorate of the Ukrainian police.

The five aircraft affected by the order are:

  • RA-82068 (msn 9773051359127), stored at Ulyanovsk Vostochny since November 2018,
  • RA-82078 (msn 9773054559153), active and last seen at Abu Dhabi Int'l on June 9, 2019,
  • RA-82045 (msn 9773052255113), stored at Leipzig/Halle since January 2019 and operating technical flights around the airport,
  • RA-82046 (msn 9773052255117), stored at Tunis since June 2018,
  • RA-82077 (msn 9773054459151), active and last seen at Milan Malpensa on June 6, 2019.

While none of the aircraft is currently in Ukraine, the court appealed to international parties to execute the seizure and deny servicing the five aircraft. The appeal is not legally binding.

Antonov previously alleged that Volga-Dnepr Airlines and its Leipzig/Halle-based MRO subsidiary, AMTES GmbH, performed unauthorised checks on the An-124s and subsequently extended the validity of type certificates of the said aircraft. The Ukrainian manufacturer said that such maintenance checks should not have been approved by the authorities as it was the world's only MRO centre authorised to conduct heavy checks on the type.

Volga-Dnepr and AMTES denied executing unauthorised maintenance on the An-124s.

The airline and the manufacturer have been deadlocked since 2014 after the Crimean Crisis and the ensuing civil war in the Donbass with pro-Russian separatists, led to the severing of all relations between Russia and Ukraine.

The parties reportedly resumed talks about the extension of airworthiness certificates for the An-124 in November 2017 but no deal has materialised to date. Any prospective checks would have to be conducted in Russia or elsewhere as Russian-registered aircraft are currently barred from operating in Ukrainian airspace.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines is the largest operator of the An-124s with twelve such aircraft. The carrier did not respond to ch-aviation's request for comment.