Refurbished AN-22 Freighter Makes its Maiden Flight

Ukraine aircraft producer Antonov’s renewed AN-22 Antei has performed its first commercial service. The inaugural flight of the worldwide largest turboprop aircraft took off from Zurich to Abu Dhabi.

Unloading of the coil reel after landing of the AN-22F in Abu Dhabi  -  courtesy Antonov.
Unloading of the coil reel after landing of the AN-22F in Abu Dhabi - courtesy Antonov.

On board the AN-22 was a coil reel produced by Hyundai and sent on behalf of Karpeles Flight Services in alliance with DB Schenker. A demanding mission. In order to accomplish it, Antonov engineers designed a special transport frame to spread the heavy load of 31.t tons evenly over the freighter’s floor. Due to the outsized dimensions of the piece (461х352х417 cm) it could have been also loaded on board the large AN-124-100 or the even larger AN-225 Mriya. However, in comparison the AN-22 proved to by far the most economical solution.
From Zurich, the flight went to Tbilisi in Georgia to refuel the aircraft before continuing its journey to Abu Dhabi. The entire mission was performed within the timeframe defined by the customer.
Antonov on the brink of a new era?
It was an important message sent out by Antonov to the international market after the company cut off all traditional ties with Russian aviation enterprises and its integration into Ukraine’s state-run defense conglomerate Ukroboronprom, a new aerospace holding centered on Antonov.
Against this backdrop, the Antonov managers were much relieved after all went well with their latest AN-22’s initial commercial flight.
"That was an important step for us as it not only satisfied our customer but also announces the re-entry of the unique AN-22 Antei aircraft into the commercial market,” commented Konstantin Lushakov, Antonov’s Executive Director. He went on to say: “We are ready to perform new flights for the delivery of oversize and heavy cargoes around the world, proposing tailored logistics solutions to our customers worldwide on basis of the AN-124-100, the An-225 and now the AN-22 Antei aircraft.”
Old freighter newly refurbished
Basically, the AN-22 turboprop is a very old aircraft, dating back to 1965 when the first model was presented during the Paris Air Show, becoming a world sensation. Ever since, the “Antei” named freighter has proved its high reliability, whilst operating under extreme climate conditions and demanding environments.  
This current AN-22 airframe was built back in 1974, with renewal works completed in August 2016.
Being technically upgraded, a third life of the workhorse can begin.
“The procedures at both airports in Zurich and Abu Dhabi were running like a clockwork and without any fail or delays. An excellent showcase for any upcoming AN-22 charter flights,” stated Partick Senn Regional Manager of Karpeles Flight Services Asia Pacific after the coil reel was unloaded at Abu Dhabi.
Heiner Siegmund

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