Antonov recently carried 80 tonnes of automotive parts from Asia to the United States of America. The flight picked up parts in two Asian locations before the An-124 flew the cargo to Ohio on a four-day journey.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge in demand for cargo transport via air. While the supply of cargo space dropped as passenger planes were grounded, demand increased due to a rise in online shopping and the need for vast PPE shipments. While some passenger airlines have started makeshift cargo operations, sometimes you just need a giant cargo aircraft to get the job done.
A double pickup
When you need to get 80 tonnes of car parts moved quickly, it can be hard to find a plane. One airline that specializes in moving massive payloads around at relatively short notice is Antonov Airlines. While the world’s largest aircraft, the An-225, is currently in maintenance, the airline has a fleet of slightly smaller An-124s ready to help.
However, there was already a problem when 80 tonnes of car parts were needed in Columbus, Ohio. They were spread across two cities in Asia. To collect the parts, the An-124 used, UR82027, first flew from Yogyakarta in Indonesia on March 31st. Here, the plane collected the first 40 tonnes of parts. A previous journey began on March 23rd.
The aircraft then flew to Hanoi in Vietnam to collect the second half of the shipment. En route to Hanoi, it completed a technical stop in Senai, Malaysia, according to records from RadarBox.com. With the cargo onboard, it was time to fly to Colombus, Ohio. However, this isn’t a journey that the An-124 could complete in one hop.
Three flights over four days
It took three flights over four days to get around the Pacific, with stops in Tokoname, Japan, and Anchorage, Alaska, en route. The parts were needed for just-in-time production lines, meaning that delays in their shipments could have caused a halt in production processes.
As such, Adam Green, CEO of The Flight Lab Aviation Consulting, said,
Due to the nature of the cargo and the double pick-up in two different countries, the planning had to be precise and executed perfectly.”
Antonov Airlines revealed that they could run the flights at short notice thanks to the US Open Skies agreement with Ukraine, where it is based. You can read more about Open Skies Agreements here.
According to Antonov Airlines, the flight was undertaken to support the increasing demand for car parts as vehicle manufacturers across the US reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the pandemic is ongoing in many parts of the world, some precautions needed to be taken for the flight to go ahead.
During each rest stop along the journey, the flight crew completed rapid COVID-19 tests. Following these, clearance was then issued to start the next leg of the trip.
S: Simple Flying
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