Ukraine’s ANTONOV Company has undertaken a lot of work to repair an AN?22 (NATO code name Cock) after a long period being grounded.
The company says: “In spite of confident leadership of the famous AN?124?100 Ruslan and AN?225 Mriya in the market of air transportation of superheavy and oversized cargo, the AN?22 is still in demand. For this reason we took the decision to renew the Antaeus”— said Oleksandr Kotsiuba, the First Vice President.
The rebuilt aircraft was originally constructed in 1974. It performed its last flight in March 2009. ANTONOV is painting the AN?22 in colors of “Antonov Airlines” and plans to offer the aircraft for cargo transportation.
It has four massive 15,000 SHP engines each driving eight contra-rotating propellers. The engine sound is unique. These are the same Kuznetzov power-plants used on the Tupolev Tu-95 (Bear) bomber. The Tu-114 airliner, using the same engines, is still the fastest turboprop to have flown at 540 mph or Mach 0.73. This record stands since 1960.
The rebuilt AN-22 aircraft can be seen below landing.
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Awesome plane. Look at those huge tires. It’s ready to go off-roading for sure.
With any luck, several copies of these will find roles in civilian cargo operations and make occasional appearances in the US like the An-124 does.
Antonov are building up a unique know-how focussing a segment where the two main players Boeing and Airbus are totally absent : dedicated airfreighters. ie conceived from the start and built on purpose for airfreight ! This is a segment where you need to have the belt tightly fixed around your belly ! So far the two arch-Rivals A or B have been unable to come up with anything else than compromised paxliners-F originally conceived for passenger transport then DIY’ed into freighters with mitigated boon ?
Antonov have the right corporate Profile to successfully launch an UltraFreighter programme, if backed up by powerful international Venture Capital and by a team of expert Sales people headhunted from within Airbus, Boeing and Embraer plus – to keep the project from going astray – a team of Logistics Engineers from (Chinese, Polish, Korean …) Shipping ?
If you look an article or two down on the front page, Lockheed is apparently also jumping back into the market with an updated civilian C-130. It’s obviously a much smaller plane, but its nearly full width cargo door, ability to RO/RO vehicles or trailers with minimal ground support equipment, and ability to operate from low quality airfields is still potentially pretty significant for oil field support and other specialized customers.
Boeing shopped around the BC-17 quite a bit, but didn’t get enough interest. I’m sure Airbus would likewise be happy to make a commercial derivative of the A400M, and if there were serious interest, the EU would eventually allow them produce a demilitarized version.
There’s a couple reasons Boeing and Airbus aren’t in this market. The biggest, by far, is that passenger aircraft derived freighters and belly cargo handle the overwhelming majority of freight just fine. Only a very small fraction of the worlds cargo fits the dual criteria of being unable to fit through a side door or at least a 747F nose door, and is too high of a priority to ship by sea. This small market is barely even on their radars.
So the market belongs to Antonov by default. Fortunately for Antonov, the surplussing of the An-124’s and An-22’s after the collapse of the USSR made them available to operators for a fraction of their new build prices, allowing them the opportunity to stay afloat by supporting the maintenance of the aircraft. Unfortunately for Antonov, there’s not enough money in this niche market to support the full development of the next generation, so it’s dubious at this point that we’ll ever see the An-70 enter regular production.
@ iamlucky13, re ” … passenger aircraft derived freighters and belly cargo handle the overwhelming majority of freight just fine …” What you refer to as “the overwhelming majority of freight” hardly adds up to 2 % of world’s containerised merchandise measured in FTK or apprx a mere 200 billion FTK. The other 98 % or 10 trillion FTK are moving by Triple Es. Another 6 % or 600 billion FTKs are maturing for Modal Shift, potentially quadrupling ICAO annual airfreighting statistics but from absence of the correct tooling, modal shift doesn’t happen, it’s BAU (business as usual) … One UltraFreighter can deliver 2.3 billion FTK annually, making all existing paxliner-F types including belly-freight OBSOLETE overnight. The recipe is wll known, the challenge has been called. Of the world’s players, the one and only with airfreighting know-how and Culture is Antonov. But I agree, iamlucky13 : better not take on this challenge alone, there’s room for a Team of players ! Lockheed Martin couild join in, as could the Chinese …