20 years of AN124 operations

The 10th September 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the first visit of the mighty Antonov AN-124 Ruslan to East Midlands Airport.

The Air Foyle Antonov aircraft - registration CCCP-82027 - arrived at EMA from the USA with a huge 57.5 tonne pressure vessel destined for Saltend near Hull. Work went on through the night to build the unloading ramp and slowly ease the huge piece of cargo out of the aircraft with only inches to spare before lifting it with two cranes on to a multi-wheeled low-loader for the journey to Hull.

Once unloading was complete the aircraft's crew had some well earned rest before the aircraft departed empty to Russia the next day.

Since 1991, the Antonov AN-124's of operators Antonov Airlines, Polet Flight and Volga Dnepr have become a common sight at East Midlands Airport and the aircraft's bigger brother - the 6-engined AN-225 (the biggest commercial freighter in the world) - has also visited five times.

Only 58 AN-124's were built but recent press reports suggest that the aircraft may be put back in to production soon.

Wingspan:                  73.30m
Length:                        68.96m
Height:                         20.78m
Max take-off weight:   over 400 tonnes
Max Payload:              up to 150 tonnes
First flew:                    Dec 26, 1982
Crew:                           6