Local plane-spotters were recently treated to a rare sight, when a Volga Dnepr (say that three times fast!) Antonov An-124 landed at YVR in late September. The An-124 is the world's second largest serially manufactured cargo airplane and world's third largest operating cargo aircraft, behind the one-off Antonov An-225 (an enlarged variant of the An-124) and the Boeing 747-8F.
The An-124 was developed primarily as a strategic military freighter for the USSR Air Force to carry missile units and main battle tanks. During the 1970’s, the Soviet Air Force saw a shortfall in their ability for heavy airlift capacity. The An-124 was developed and the AN-124 was manufactured in parallel by two plants: one in Russia and another in the Ukraine.
Manufacturing of the first airframe began in 1979 with the first flight taking place in December 1982. Series production ceased with the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the last five unfinished airframes were not completed until 2004.
Today, this cargo aircraft plays an important role in the airfreight industry and is commonly used for oversize freight charters. Cargo includes trains, yachts, helicopters, large engines, animals and even other aircraft fuselages. Up to 150 tonnes of cargo can be carried in a military An-124, but also allows for up to 88 passengers seated on an upper deck behind the wing centre section.
Operators: Russian Air Force, Libyan Arab Air Cargo, Volga-Dnepr (Russia), Polet Airlines (Russia), Antonov Airlines (Ukraine), and Maximus Air Cargo (UAE)
First Flight: December 26, 1982
Cockpit Crew: 6
Cruise Speed: 800–850 km/h (430 knots)
Height: 20.78 m (68 ft 2 in)
Length: 68.96 m (226 ft 3 in)
Wing Span: 73.3 m (240 ft 5 in)
Passenger Capacity: 150 tonnes of cargo and 88 passengers (or an additional 350 passengers on a palletized seating system)
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 405,000 kg (893,000 lb)
Maximum Range: 5,400 km (2,900 nm)
Engine: 4 × Ivchenko Progress D-18T turbofans
Did you Know? An An-124 was used in April 2011 to airlift a large concrete pump from Germany to Japan to help cool reactors damaged in the Fukushima nuclear accident.
YVR Connection: The airport community was treated to a rare sight in late September, when the aircraft landed at YVR to load cargo. While this is not the first time the aircraft has been spotted on our runways, it always manages to bring out plenty of plane-spotters and aviation enthusiasts.
Thank you to Airport Authority employees for submitting their photos for this month’s Aircraft of the Month.