Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Air Freight on This Scale Helps the Global Ongoing Fight Against the Pandemic

A Thousand Cubic Metres of Medical Equipment Carried on Just One Flight
Shipping News Feature

CHINA – POLAND – UK – When it comes to shipping vital medical supplies to fight the Covid-19 virus there is no faster way than via air freight. And it seems when doing that in the largest quantities possible the best choice would be the heaviest aircraft ever built with the biggest wingspan of any in active service, the legendary Antonov AN-225 Mriya.

This week saw such a craft loaded with a record cargo of about 1000 m3 of medicines, tests for laboratory analysis, medical masks and other protective equipment, and weighing in the region of 100 tonnes, chartered by Chapman Freeborn in the UK, carry the goods from China to Poland.

The giant plane, having just been refurbished and modernised, which included fitting a new Ukrainian produced engine remote control system and LED lighting, was re-joining Antonov Airlines fleet of AN-124-100 aircraft performing charter humanitarian aid and relief operations delivering medical cargo and supplies required during the pandemic. With such huge craft no longer in production the Ukrainian team has to monitor performance and upgrade as required.

The AN-225 payload was shipping from Tianjin China Airport to Warsaw with a stopover on the route at the Almaty Airport, Kazakhstan for refuelling and crew rest. As of now since the end of March, Antonov Airlines has already carried more than 1400 tonnes of cargo from China to different countries in Europe, Americas and the Middle East. Vitaliy Shost, Antonov Airlines First Deputy Director commented:

“Our company is very proud of the opportunity to contribute and join the fight against the global pandemic. Planning and performing charter flights in the current difficult quarantine conditions imposed by many countries when there are restrictions applied for landing and crew rest permits, requires selfless dedication and commitment on the part of all airline staff, from commercial personnel and ops planners in the office, to pilots and technicians on board.

"Therefore, I would like to thank everyone who takes part in the setting up and arrangement of humanitarian flights from China and in particular those who were directly involved in the performance of the AN-225 flight to Warsaw. We extend our exceptional gratitude to our customer Chapman Freeborn and partners for their cooperation and the opportunity to jointly carry out such an important and necessary mission together. ”

Photo: The Mriya (the Ukrainian word for Dream) aircraft has established more than 250 aviation records, in particular the hauling of single-piece cargo weighing 187.6 tonnes, as well as the absolute record for the payload of 253.8 tonnes. The aircraft’s cargo bay is actually longer than the first ever powered flight by the Wright Brothers.