Flight Safety Information [December 25, 2018] [No. 260]


Flight Safety Information
Top Flight Safety Information   

December 25, 2018  –  No. 260

 

In This Issue
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
ARGUS 2019 TRAINING COURSES
Incident: Baltic B735 at Amsterdam on Dec 24th 2018, could not retract landing gear
Incident: Delta B763 near Shemya on Dec 24th 2018, engine problem
Incident: SkyWest CRJ9 at Winnipeg on Dec 6th 2018, gear disagree after departure
Agusta A109S Grand – Fatal Accident (Mexico)
Antonov An-24RV – Runway Excursion (Russia)
Delta jet with deflated tire lands safely in Windsor Locks
Delta passengers aboard Beijing-Seattle flight stranded on Alaskan island
LIBIK Fire Suppression Kits for the Cabin and Flight Deck
Textron Exec Nominated To NTSB…Michael Graham
Pilots should go undergo ‘tiredness test’ before flights to stop them falling asleep in the cockpit
SF Airlines adds its 50th freighter
Flyadeal to purchase up to 50 B737 Max aircraft
AirAsia sells 25 aircraft for RM3.22bil
Position Available: Manager, Corporate Safety
Position Available: Deputy Director of Safety
TODAY’S PHOTO
ADVERTISE WITH…FLIGHT SAFETY INFORMATION

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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Flight Safety Information

(Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC)

 

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Incident: Baltic B735 at Amsterdam on Dec 24th 2018, could not retract landing gear
An Air Baltic Boeing 737-500, registration YL-BBE performing positioning flight BT-9802 from Amsterdam (Netherlands) to Riga (Latvia), was climbing out of Amsterdam’s runway 36L when the crew stopped the climb at FL060 reporting they were unable to retract the landing gear. The crew returned to Amsterdam for a safe landing on runway 36R about 25 minutes after departure.

The aircraft is still on the ground in Amsterdam about 12 hours after landing back. The aircraft had arrived in Amsterdam as flight BT-609 from Vilnius (Lithuania) of Dec 23rd 2018, the return flight BT-610 was cancelled and the aircraft remained on the ground until departing for the positioning flight to Riga the following day.

http://avherald.com/h?article=4c1fd542&opt=0

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Incident: Delta B763 near Shemya on Dec 24th 2018, engine problem
A Delta Airlines Boeing 767-300, registration N1612T performing flight DL-128 from Beijing (China) to Seattle,WA (USA) with 194 people on board, was enroute at FL350 over Kamchatka (Russia) when the crew reported problems with one of the engines (CF6). The aircraft drifted down and diverted to Shemya,AK (USA) about 630nm east of their present position. The aircraft landed safely in Shemya about 2 hours later.

A replacement Boeing 767-300 registration N1603 was dispatched from Seattle to Shemya as flight DL-9950 and reached Shemya about 11 hours after the landing of N1612T.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/DAL128/history/20181224/0420Z/ZBAA/KSEA

http://avherald.com/h?article=4c1fd083&opt=0

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Incident: SkyWest CRJ9 at Winnipeg on Dec 6th 2018, gear disagree after departure
A Skywest Canadair CRJ-900 on behalf of Delta Airlines, registration N813SK performing flight OO-4718/DL-4718 from Winnipeg,MB (Canada) to Minneapolis,MN (USA) with 67 people on board, was climbing out of Winnipeg when the crew received a “STEERING INOP” caution followed by a gear disagree indication. The crew stopped the climb and requested vectors while working the relating checklists. After working the checklists the crew received three green indications, declared emergency nonetheless and performed a low approach. Ground observers reported all three gear struts in position, the nose gear was straight. The aircraft landed safely and was towed to the apron.

The Canadian TSB reported maintenance found a leaking nose gear strut seal. The seal was replaced.

http://avherald.com/h?article=4c1fcd82&opt=0

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Agusta A109S Grand – Fatal Accident (Mexico)

Date: 24-DEC-2018
Time: 14:40 LT
Type: Agusta A109S Grand
Owner/operator: Servicios Aereos del Altiplano
Registration: XA-BON
C/n / msn: 22174
Fatalities: Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities: 0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Santa Maria Coronango, Puebla –    Mexico
Phase: En route
Nature: Executive
Departure airport: Puebla
Destination airport: Mexico City

Narrative:
The helicopter impacted cornfield terrain in Santa Maria Coronango municipality, Puebla. The helicopter was partially consumed by the post-impact fire and the five occupants onboard received fatal injuries.

https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=220047

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Antonov An-24RV – Runway Excursion (Russia)

Date: 23-DEC-2018
Time:
Type: Antonov An-24RV
Owner/operator: Rusline
Registration: RA-47315
C/n / msn: 67310502 105-02
Fatalities: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 24
Other fatalities: 0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location: Bodaybo Airport (UIKB) –    Russia
Phase: Landing
Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Ust-Kut
Destination airport: Bodaybo Airport (UIKB)

Narrative:
RusLine Antonov An-24 (RA-47315, built 1976) was seriously damaged when its left wingtip struck a pole after veering off the unpaved runway on landing Badaybo Airport, Siberia, Russia. None of the 24 passengers aboard a flight from Ust-Kut were hurt.

https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=219926

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Delta jet with deflated tire lands safely in Windsor Locks


WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) – Holiday travelers on their way to Connecticut had a bit of a scare Monday evening when a Delta airlines jet had a deflated tire shortly after takeoff.

Delta flight 1383 left Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta bound for Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks Monday afternoon around 3:55 p.m. The crew reported the flat tire, but proceeded to Bradley as scheduled.

The flight, with 161 passengers on board, landed safely at Bradley just after 6:15 p.m. No one was hurt.

The plane was able to taxi to the gate despite the flat tire, and the passengers deplaned normally, a Delta spokesperson said Monday night.

https://www.wtnh.com/news/connecticut/hartford/delta-jet-with-deflated-tire-lands-safely-in-windsor-locks/1674112581

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Delta passengers aboard Beijing-Seattle flight stranded on Alaskan island after ‘potential engine issue’ forces landing


Delta flight 9950 en route to pickup passengers of flight 128, which was diverted to Shemya Island off the coast of Alaska. (Courtesy of FlightAware.com)

The carrier sent another aircraft to pick up the 194 passengers. The flight back to Seattle is scheduled to land at about 9 p.m.

A Delta Airlines flight from Beijing to Seattle was forced to land on a remote Alaskan island Monday after pilots were alerted to a “potential engine issue,” leaving almost 200 hundred on board stranded for more than 12 hours.

The carrier sent another aircraft to pick up the 194 passengers, Delta spokeswoman Savannah Huddleston said in an emailed statement. She didn’t have more information on the engine problem.

The diverted plane, flight DL 128, was a Boeing 767-300ER. The plane sent from Seattle to pick up the passengers landed at Eareckson Air Station at 1:10 p.m. Seattle time, about 11 hours after their arrival, according to data from FlightAware, a flight-tracking website. It was scheduled to turn around and come back after spending about three hours on the ground, arriving in Seattle at about 9 p.m.

The flight was diverted to Shemya Island, which is part of the Aleutian chain off the coast of Alaska. The airline has sent maintenance technicians, customer service agents and a new crew to work on the flight back to Seattle, Huddleston said.

Eareckson Air Station serves as an Air Force refueling hub and an emergency landing site for civilian aircraft. Shemya Island is 1,450 miles from Anchorage.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman couldn’t be reached because of the partial federal government shutdown.

University of Washington graduate Zhen Tian, 22, said her parents were on the flight coming to visit Seattle for the first time. It was her mother’s first international flight and she was nervous, especially because she doesn’t speak English, Zhen said.

“I bet she is so nervous by now,” Zhen said on Monday.

Around 6 a.m. Monday, Zhen checked her parents’ flight to make sure it hadn’t been delayed. She was surprised to see the plane had landed in Alaska, and she hadn’t received information from Delta. She said she called the airline’s customer-service line and was relieved to hear the plane had landed safely, but is still worried because she hasn’t heard from her parents. She assumed they don’t have cell service.

Zhen said she plans to keep checking for flight updates the rest of the night.

“Delta apologizes to customers for the delay and has sent another aircraft to continue the flight to Seattle,” Huddleston said. “The safety of our customers and crew is always Delta’s top priority.”

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/delta-flight-from-beijing-to-seattle-lands-on-alaskan-island-due-to-engine-issue-alaska-public-media-reports/

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Textron Exec Nominated To NTSB

Michael Graham, the director of flight operations safety, security and standardization at Textron Aviation, has been nominated to succeed Earl Weener, who has served on the NTSB since 2010. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Graham will complete Weener’s term, which expires at the end of 2020. He has been with Textron Aviation for 21 years, and is responsible for the safe and secure operations of all Textron flights, worldwide.

Graham started his aviation career as a naval aviator for the U.S. Navy, flying A-7s and F/A-18s. He later worked for Boeing/McDonnell Douglas as an F/A-18 aircrew instructor and avionics engineer, and for Cessna as a flight-test pilot. He is an ATP with 10,000 flight hours and type-rated in six different Citation models.

NBAA president Ed Bolen said Graham has worked on their Safety Committee. “Mike has been a tireless advocate for business-aviation safety, including championing our work to address single-pilot business-aviation safety issues as lead of the NBAA Safety Committee’s single-pilot safety working group,” Bolen said. NBAA supports his confirmation. Graham has also served as the chairman of the Air Charter Safety Foundation since July.

https://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/Textron-Exec-Nominated-To-NTSB-232031-1.html

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Pilots should go undergo ‘tiredness test’ before flights to stop them falling asleep in the cockpit, union says


The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), which represents over 10,000 UK pilots, warned politicians that lethargy affecting captains and first officers presented the single biggest threat to plane passenger safety

Pilots should be made to undergo ‘tiredness tests’ before they fly to help stop them from falling asleep in the cockpit, MPs have been told.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), which represents over 10,000 UK pilots, warned politicians that lethargy affecting captains and first officers presented the single biggest threat to plane passenger safety.

The union said it wants airlines to use computer programmes to estimate pilots’ fatigue levels based on their flight rosters, which are created weeks in advance of their duties.

Long working hours and regularly crossing different time zones are said to contribute towards severe tiredness inside plane cockpits.

Under rules set by the European Aviation Standards Agency, which regulates working hours, pilots who declare they are too tired to safely lead a journey are not compelled to fly.

However, it is claimed aviators are still operating flight controls over fears they could be penalised or even lose their jobs if they report being too fatigued to work.

BALPA has proposed airlines could use a computer based model based on the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, a study used to measure an individual’s drowsiness.

The scale ranks a person’s tiredness from 1, classified as extremely alert, to 9, recorded as extremely sleepy. The union suggested no pilot should be allowed to fly if they are determined to be an 8 (sleepy) or above when tested.

Dr Rob Hunter, head of flight safety for BALPA told The Telegraph that pilots were at risk of sleeping on the job unless workloads were managed more efficiently.

He said: “Pilots can be rostered duties which we know will leave them fatigued and that is normal and acceptable in this industry.

“Performance is affected because they are at an increased risk of falling asleep. Other effects are that pilots cannot think as quickly nor when they are tired and this is a problem depending on the situation.

“The regulations are written so as to give airlines a great deal of flexibility but that gives the possibility of them rostering a pilot with severe fatigue. The regulator thinks that the airlines can be trusted to manage this situation but we do not.

“There is a discrepancy in the number of official fatigue reports received by the Civil Aviation Authority and what pilots tell us they are experiencing.”

Dr Hunter called for politicians to help change legislation surrounding pilot working hours at a health seminar held at Portcullis House in October.

The Air Safety Group, a campaign group comprised of aviation professionals to improve passenger safety, said it supported BALPA’s proposal and called for a scientific study to examine the risks caused by fatigue.

Some MPs have declared support for pilots to be assessed for tiredness before flights, but others said more research was needed.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “Our aviation industry prides itself on incredibly high standards and a strong reputation for safety and BALPA are absolutely right to for better rules to improve the safety both of pilots and of passengers. I fully support their proposals.”

Airlines including British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic said it met all safety requirements and EASA standards when rostering their pilots.

The EASA said managing fatigue is a shared responsibility between airline management and individual crew members

A spokesperson said: “Responsibility for preventing fatigue cannot rest on the airline alone or the crew member alone; all involved must contribute to achieving the goal.

“Only training and education can change individual behaviours. Therefore, an airline should provide adequate fatigue training, as well as tools for staff to use when assessing their own alertness.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/24/pilots-should-go-undergo-tiredness-test-flights-stop-falling/

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SF Airlines adds its 50th freighter


SF Airlines took delivery of its forty-ninth and fiftieth freighters in December. Photo: SF Airlines

On 21 December, SF Airlines took redelivery of a 757-200PCF (27201) following its conversion to freighter configuration by Precision at the Ameco facility in Chengdu. The redelivery brings SF’s freighter fleet up to fifty units.

The airline affiliate of SF Express has grown its freighter fleet at an impressive rate, from only ten freighters in 2012 to more than thirty in 2016, when the carrier put its first widebody freighter, a Boeing-converted 767-300F, into service. Furthermore, the carrier – which operates the largest freighter fleet of any China-based airline – shows no signs of slowing its growth. Late in October of this year, SF took redelivery of the first of two ex-Jade Cargo 747-400ERFs it won at auction a year ago this month, marking the first large widebody in operation in SF’s livery. The remaining 747F is still in storage at Shanghai Pudong (PVG).

Moves from SF and its parent company, SF Holding, during 2018 indicate the large scale of the companies’ ambitions in Asia’s growing express sector. Alongside adding more aircraft to SF Airlines’ freighter fleet, SF Holding and Deutsche Post DHL Group announced in October that DP-DHL would transfer its regional supply chain operations in Macau, Hong Kong, and Mainland China to SF Holding, greatly expanding SF’s domestic logistics capabilities. Even earlier this year, SF Express joined a “Malaysia-China cross-border e-commerce sharing platform” initiative. Both deals are demonstrative of SF’s business focus on helping Chinese companies expand their reach into other markets.

The fifty freighter aircraft SF Airlines currently operate include one 747-400ERF, five 767-300BCFs, twenty-seven 757-200Fs, fourteen 737-300Fs and three 737-400Fs. The carrier also has additional 757 and 767 aircraft currently in conversion, and 737-800BCF conversions on order with Boeing.

https://cargofacts.com/sf-airlines-adds-its-50th-freighter/

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Flyadeal to purchase up to 50 B737 Max aircraft


Saudi Arabian low-cost carrier Flyadeal has announced a commitment for up to 50 B737 Max aircraft in order to “support domestic growth and potential international expansion”.

The airline was launched in 2017 as a low-cost subsidiary of Saudi Arabian Airlines, and currently operates eight domestic routes out of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, with a fleet of ten A320-200 aircraft.

The new deal is worth $5.9 billion at list price, and when finalised will see Flyadeal order 30 B737 Max 8s, with an option for a further 20 aircraft.

Boeing said that “Compared to Flyadeal’s current fleet of A320s, the Max 8 carries 12 more passengers and provides 8 per cent lower operating costs per seat”.

Commenting on the news Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines, His Excellency Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser said:

“The demand for air transport services in the domestic market of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has grown exponentially. A new brand, with a fresh identity focused on low-fares, Flyadeal has brought to the market a new choice – which has been received very positively.”

“The low-fares airline will continue to expand rapidly, and the addition to the fleet aligns well with Flyadeal’s target to grow its presence in the domestic market and cover new markets outside of Saudi Arabia.”

https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2018/12/24/flyadeal-to-purchase-up-to-50-b737-max-aircraft/

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AirAsia sells 25 aircraft for RM3.22bil


Asset monetisation: A file picture showing an AirAsia Airbus A320-200 plane arriving at KLIA2 in Sepang. AirAsia says its deal with Castlelake marks another move to monetise its assets. – Reuters

Group Bhd is disposing of 25 aircraft to US private investment firm Castlelake LP in a deal worth US$768mil (RM3.22bil).

Castlelake will also purchase four new aircraft that will be delivered to AirAsia in 2019, the airline said in a statement. The 29 planes – Airbus’ A320-200ceo and A320neo – will be leased back to AirAsia.

For AirAsia, the deal marks another move to monetise its assets as Asia’s biggest budget airline seeks to transform itself into an asset-light, digitally focused firm.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, AirAsia said its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, Asia Aviation Capital Limited (AACL), had entered into a share purchase agreement with Castlelake’s indirect entities for the disposal of its entire equity interest in Merah Aviation Asset Holding Ltd – which owns the aircraft.

It said proceeds from the disposal would mainly be for the repayment of existing debt and to defray estimated expenses for the proposed transaction.

“The board believes that the proposed transaction is in line with AirAsia group’s strategy to focus on its core airline operations, while allocating resources within AirAsia group in a more efficient manner.”

“With the proposed transaction, AirAsia will be able to preserve its existing funds for its future business and provide a stable platform for AirAsia to expand its route network, without the financial commitment of owning aircraft which are capital intensive in nature and/or undertake new and appropriate investment opportunities to maximise shareholders’ returns.”

Following the proposed disposal, AirAsia said its gross gearing ratio is expected to fall from 0.53 times to 0.24 times.

“The proposed disposal will also improve AirAsia’s position by strengthening its shareholders’ funds. This provides AirAsia with the opportunity for more tailored capital management initiatives.

“The proposed transaction allows AirAsia to establish a long term partnership with Castlelake, a global alternative investment firm which has strong experience in the aircraft leasing industry.”

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, AirAsia said the proposed transaction is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019.

The transaction between AirAsia and Castlelake confirms a report by Reuters earlier this month that both parties had indeed struck a deal.

“The deal underscores the strong appetite of funds to invest in the global aircraft leasing sector, which is benefiting from growing demand on the back of a rise in low-cost carriers and passenger traffic,” it said.

The carrier is cashing in on a booming leasing sector after ordering hundreds of Airbus SE planes at bargain prices in recent years to become one of Airbus’ biggest customers.

Castlelake, a global fund focused on alternative investments, has been stepping up its exposure to aviation assets.

In June last year, it raised US$1bil from investors including family offices, sovereign wealth funds, endowments and pension funds.

https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/12/25/airasia-sells-25-aircraft-for-rm322bil/#8oPUJVErs8CBGVhA.99

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Manager, Corporate Safety
  • This position reports to the General Manager – Corporate Safety and has the following responsibilities:
    • Responsible for managing and developing one or more direct reports
    • Responsible for the daily management and oversight of the Occupational Safety Management System
    • Thorough knowledge of regulatory compliance in order to ensure training is accurate and efficient
    • Act as the corporate point of contact for all OSHA employee complaints, fatalities, serious injuries, investigations, and citations , including investigating the incident, developing corrective actions with the operating division/station, and corresponding with OSHA officials
    • Report on Delta’s safety performance to senior leaders
    • Maintain the corporate-level OSHA injury database
    • Work with the operating divisions through Safety Roundtables, monthly meetings, etc to review performance against goals, discuss program changes
    • Represent Delta externally on safety-related, industry associations
    • Track occupational safety regulatory requirements and update the Safety Policies and Procedures manual accordingly
    • Communicate corporate-wide, through newsletters, corporate website, safety bulletins etc. on workplace hazards, regulatory changes, significant issues in other airlines
  • Bachelors degrees required (safety disciple preferred)
  • 5 years working experience in a safety discipline
  • Thorough knowledge of a part 121 airline
  • Knowledge of OSHA regulations and application to part 121 operations
  • Experience conducting accident/incident investigations
  • Ability to work with all divisions and levels
  • Must have strong verbal and writing skills
  • Must be able to effectively work with standard Microsoft office products
  • Must be performing satisfactorily in present position

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Helicopter Association International (HAI) is dedicated to providing its members with services that directly benefit their operations, and to advancing the international helicopter community by providing programs that enhance safety, encourage professionalism and economic viability while promoting the unique contributions vertical flight offers society. HAI has more than 3,800 member organizations and annually produces HAI HELI-EXPO®, the world’s largest trade show and exposition dedicated to helicopters.
Position:  Deputy Director of Safety
Overview: The Deputy Director of Safety is responsible for supporting the association’s existing aviation safety programs and developing new safety initiatives to benefit HAI’s membership.
Essential Functions of the Position Include, but Are Not Limited To:
  • Providing auxiliary support to the Director of Safety
  • Serving as the HAI safety representative on various industry, government, and international boards, task forces, and meetings
  • Providing feedback for the association’s response to proposed safety-related regulations and legislative initiatives
  • Collecting, researching, and analyzing safety and accident data for subsequent statistical reporting
  • Developing and implementing new HAI industry safety initiatives
  • Routinely interacting with aviation related agencies and organizations in support of the rotorcraft industry
  • Supporting all aspects of HAI’s accreditation programs (IS-BAO & HAI APS) that assist helicopter operators in reducing incidents and accidents, while improving industry safety culture
  • Providing safety supervision for flight activities at the association’s annual trade show and exposition, HAI HELI-EXPO®
  • Responding to requests for rotorcraft safety assistance from HAI members and the general public
  • Serving as staff liaison for assigned HAI committees
  • Contributing content for use in HAI’s printed and electronic publications
  • Making safety presentations on behalf of HAI as necessary
  • Other duties as assigned
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all duties and responsibilities.
Desired Qualifications for the Position Include:
  • College or advanced degree related to aviation safety and/or management
  • Five or more years of related helicopter safety background, training, and experience
  • Certificated helicopter pilot and/or maintenance technician
  • Previous experience with helicopter or other aviation-related organization
  • Prior international experience preferred
  • Experience with auditing protocols and accreditation programs
  • A passionate commitment to the promotion of helicopter safety
  • Highly motivated, able to work independently and in a team environment
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills with prior experience in creating and delivering written proposals and public presentations
  • Research, data analysis, and report writing experience
  • Proficiency with the Microsoft Office Suite
  • Detail oriented, self-starter, with strong organizational and time management skills
  • Ability to travel
The above qualifications are representative, but not all-inclusive, of the experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the position.

TODAY’S PHOTO
An-225 marks 30 years as world’s largest aircraft

Antonov is marking the 30th anniversary of the maiden flight of its unique An-225, as it prepares to surrender – possibly – its title of the world’s largest aircraft to another six-engined giant.

For three decades the ‘Mriya’ – the Ukrainian word for ‘vision’ or ‘dream’ – has reigned undisputed, setting several world records.

The An-225 was developed from the four-engined An-124, modified with a stretched fuselage, broader 88.4m wingspan and six Ivchenko-Progress D-18 turbofans capable of delivering over 136t of thrust.

It also featured a characteristic twin vertical fin to provide stability and greater rudder authority during the key operations for which the aircraft was designed – the ‘piggy-back’ transport of outsize payloads up to 250t, notably the Soviet Union’s Energia launch vehicle and Buran space shuttle orbiter.

Flight International reported the roll-out of the An-225 at Kiev in its final issue of 1988, by which time the aircraft had conducted its first flight having lifted off on 21 December.

Full details of the aircraft remained sketchy – the magazine relied photographs of a model to estimate the size of the undercarriage. The An-225 has 32 wheels including 14 on each main-gear assembly.

Like the An-124, the An-225 is loaded through a nose visor, lowering itself for ease of access through a process which Antonov calls the “tantsi slona”, the Ukrainian phrase for “elephant’s dance”.

Development of the aircraft took only three-and-a-half years, according to Antonov and, in its early stages of operation, the An-225 made appearances at the Paris and Farnborough air shows.

Although the An-225’s maiden flight came seven weeks after the first, and only, flight of the Buran orbiter, the aircraft nevertheless demonstrated its ability to transport the shuttle with a flight on 3 May 1989.

Collapse of the Soviet Union, almost exactly three years after the first flight, and abandonment of the Buran shuttle programme left the future of the An-225 uncertain.

The sole aircraft was parked in 1994 and assembly of a second airframe was halted, the incomplete fuselage still mothballed at an Antonov facility in Kiev. While Antonov has previously indicated intentions to finish the second An-225, progress to this end has been virtually non-existent.

But the original An-225 (UR-82060) was given the opportunity to enter commercial service, following a seven-year refurbishment programme which led to restoration of flight testing at Kiev on 7 May 2001 and certification by the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee two weeks later on 23 May.

Antonov Airlines, the operator of the jet, claims that a single flight set 214 and 124 world records on 11 September 2001 when it transported a 253.8t cargo to an altitude of 10,570m (34,700ft). The aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 640t.

Only two aircraft have exceeded the An-225’s wingspan. The Hughes H-4 Hercules, which briefly became airborne during its only flight in 1947, and the newly-developed twin-fuselage Stratolaunch, yet to fly, which has a 117m span and is also intended as a transport for space vehicles.

But while Stratolaunch is fitted with six Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, and its developer describes it as the world’s largest aircraft, it will be shorter than the An-225 and have a lower payload capacity at 227t – which means, in the giant aircraft stakes, the Ukrainian ‘dream’ lives on.

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Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC is an international, multi-discipline technical, scientific and research consulting firm specializing in aviation and industrial safety. Our specialties are aviation litigation support (Expert Witness), aviation/airport safety programs, accident investigation and reconstruction, safety & quality assessments/audits (ISO-9001/AS-9100), system safety, human factors, Safety Management Systems (SMS) assessment/implementation & training, safety/quality training & risk management, aviation manual development, IS-BAO Auditing, technical writing & editing, airfield/heliport lighting products, patent infringement/invalidity expert testimony and Technical Support.