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trailer world Issue One 2012

34      Issue One 2012 Photos:MichaelPenner,AntonovAirlines ters with a smaller aircraft. Sometimes the driving force behind a charter is urgency, and sometimes it is a desire to have close con- trol over the whole shipment process. Illustrating the latter case, he cites a customer that was shipping power transformers by sea and road from Europe to the US. They were finding that some arrived damaged, which created expensive delays and sparked compensation claims,” he says. “Us- ing the AN-225, the transformers arrived in California in perfect condition three days after leaving the factory. So yes, the charter was expensive, but not in comparison to delays and claims caused by the traditional method of shipping.” Some AN-225 loads are not heavy, just awkwardly shaped. In June 2010, the aircraft set a record for the longest ever piece of air cargo – two 42 metre wind turbine blades, moved from Tian- jin in China to Denmark. Sometimes, the aircraft carries two large items – such as two laser welding machines moved from Shijiazhuang in China to Hamburg in April 2010, weighing 150 tonnes in total. The record single item – a world record for air cargo – was a 187.6 tonne electromagnet core for a power station, moved from Hahn to Armenia on 11 August 2009. The AN-225 then returned to Hahn to collect another load of related equipment. Aid transporter The AN-225 is sometimes also used for bulk loads of smaller items. Its first ever commercial load in December 2010 was 187.5 tonnes of ready meals, shipped from Stuttgart to Oman for US forces on exercise there. It has been used in human- itarian crises too. In February 2010, in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, the plane rushed 108 tonnes of earth moving equip- ment and construction machinery from Japan to Santo Domingo. As with the AN-124, any such equipment can simply be driven onto the AN-225. It “kneels” (that is it lowers itself towards the ground) during loading to allow easy access up its loading ramp. It also has its own internal 20 tonne crane. Its interior is a 43 metres long, 6.4 metres wide and 4.4 metres high, and it has six engines (compared to four on the AN-124), two massive downward-sweeping wings, and 32 wheels on its un- dercarriage. Its ability to carry loads attached to its roof – a capa- bility developed for the space programme – has never been used for commercial cargo, however. As the flagship of the Antonov fleet, the aircraft is kept in tip- top condition. Kulbaka compares it to a Formula 1 race car. “An- tonov really look after it,” he says. “Last time I saw it, it looked as if it has just come out of the showroom.” Nurtured and cherished Like a Formula 1 car, it also comes with an entire team of specialists attached. In addition to six flight crew on shorter flights and eight longhaul, it carries a load- master and ten specialist engineers, one for each of the aircraft’s key systems – the hydraulics, the undercarriage, and so on. These deal with any mechanical glitches, and carry out preventative maintenance after every flight. This matters, because – as Kulbaka admits – one worry for a potential customer is that they are very reliant on that single aircraft to perform on the day. If the aircraft was ever unable to » Yes, the charter was expen- sive, but not in comparison to delays caused by traditional methods of shipping.« Valery Kulbaka, Commercial Director for Antonov Airlines The Antonov AN-225 “Mriya“ It is the largest aircraft ever, apart from the famous ‘Spruce Goose’ built by Hughes Aircraft during the Second World War. That had a greater wingspan and height, but was 20 percent shorter and only made one short test flight. The Wright Brothers’ first flight could have taken place within its cargo bay. It has 32 wheels and travels with a crew of 17 – six flight crew (eight on longhaul flights), a loadmaster, and ten specialist engineers, one for each of the aircraft’s systems. Fully loaded it is twice as heavy as a C5-Galaxy, the largest cargo aircraft of the US military. 88.4 m 84 m By-crew-cabin Volume 1300 m3 Floor area 280 m2 6.4 m 4.4m Flight attendant cabin 18.1m Air