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Aircraft of the Month: Antonov An-124 - Gargantuan Russian bird touches down at YVR

Antonov 1I had a chat with a man named Mike recently, a plane-spotting photographer and general YVR enthusiast who stopped by our community booth at the Garlic Festival at Richmond's Terra Nova Rural Park. He shared a rumour that the Antonov was scheduled to make an appearance at YVR. He was right.

For those of you who haven't seen an Antonov in the flesh (well, metal), it's an enormous Russian aircraft designed to airlift smaller planes and fully assembled aircraft components like the massive General Electric turbofan engines used in Boeing's 777 airliners. An Antonov was even used to transport the Atlas V rocket launcher between its manufacturer in Colorado to Cape Canaveral for lift-off.  

This Antonov An-124 - the second-largest Russian cargo plane and one of the heaviest aircraft ever manufactured - landed at YVR on Wednesday to pick up four recently refurbished Eurocopters bound for Australia and Afghanistan. It was parked at Vector Aerospace's facilities on the south side of the airport for several hours. As you can see below, the aircraft "kneels" - a technical term - while cargo is loaded through its nose, making for some very cool photographs.

Crew: 4-6 (pilot, copilot, navigator, senior flight engineer (+flight engineer, radio man) + 2 loadmasters)
Capacity: 88 passengers or the hold can take an additional 350 on a palletised seating system
Payload: 150,000 kg (330,000 lb)
Length: 68.96 m (226 ft 3 in)
Wingspan: 73.3 m (240 ft 5 in)
Height: 20.78 m (68 ft 2 in)
Wing area: 628 m² (6,760 sq ft)
Empty weight: 175,000 kg (385,000 lb)
Loaded weight: 405,000 kg (893,000 lb)
Useful load: 230,000 kg (508,000 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 405,000 kg (893,000 lb)
Powerplant: 4 × Ivchenko Progress D-18T turbofans, 229.5 kN (51,600 lbf) each
Maximum speed: 865 km/h (467 kn (537 mph))
Cruise speed: 800–850 km/h (430 kn (490 mph))
Range: 5,200 km (2,808 nm, 3231 mi)
Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,370 ft)
Wing loading: 365 kg/m² (74.7 lb/sq ft)
Thrust/weight: 0.23
Take-off run distance (maximum take-off weight): 2,520 m (8,270 ft)
Landing roll distance at maximum landing weight: 900 m (3,000 ft)  

The Richmond Review's Matt Hoesktra also wrote a great story about the action and posted a video; check it out.

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