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trailer world Issue One 2012

    Issue One 2012  35 take off as planned, the customer could be landed with hefty expenses and delays. But he says that in practice the AN-225 has proved ultra- reliable. “Of course there are minor problems – all mechani- cal things have them – but 99 percent of shipments have been delivered on time. It takes courage for a company to book it, but there is no doubt that all who have done so have seen a big benefit to their business.” By ordinary airline standards, utilisation of the AN-225 is low. It flies some 4-500 hours a year – a figure an ordinary commercial freighter might clock up in a month. On average that works out at twelve missions a year, but Kulbaka says demand is very hard to predict. “Sometimes you get four or five trips in a row,” he says. And maybe low utilisation is not such a bad thing given that there is only one AN-225 in service. The second AN-225 en- visaged by the Energia programme was part built by the time funding dried up, and Antonov have at times considered fin- ishing it. But the most recent estimate was that this would cost $300 million, finance that is not currently available. So the AN-225 will remain a special case – a thoroughbred, an eye-turning wonder at every airport it visits. And for par- ticular infrastructure, oil exploration and humanitarian projects around the world, it will continue to be an aircraft the world just can’t do without. (pc) Delivering relief aid to Japan after the 2011 earthquake (left) and a 135 tonne casting machine to Kazakhstan (right). – Fascinating images of the visit of the to Hamburg in 2010 can be found at