The Antonov An-72 (NATO reporting name Coaler) is a transport aircraft developed by Antonov in the former Soviet Union. It was designed as a STOL transport and intended as a replacement for the Antonov An-26, but variants have found success as commercial freighters.
The An-72 jet plane is equipped with two D-36 jet engines mounted above the wing's leading edge with the jet exhausts blowing over titanium panels on the upper surface which creates a Coandă effect over the wing and flaps to direct the jet thrust downwards for STOL operations - a simple but effective example of thrust vectoring. The canceled Boeing YC-14 STOL transport airplane employed a similar system of overwing blowing.
The rear fuselage of the airplane has a hinged loading ramp with a rear fairing that slides backwards and up to clear the opening. Up to 7.5 tons can be airdropped whilst there are folding side seats for 52 passengers.
The An-72 has extremely good short field capabilities. Like many other Russian-built aircrafts, this jet plane was designed to operate on rugged airfields. Its powerful undercarriage can perfectly well deal with sand, grass or other unpaved surfaces.
In January 1997 and 1998 the Paris-Dakar rally was assisted by two AN-72 aircraft. In 1999 a total of four planes of this type joined the rally.
All the aircraft have certificate for AIRCRAFT HULL AND LIABILITY INSURANCE and specifically for Germany, Italy.
The Antonov AN-72 airplanes have a noise certificate according ANX 16 st 3.
Design and development
The An-72 first flew on 22 December 1977. Produced in tandem with the An-72, the Antonov An-74 variant adds the ability to operate in harsh weather conditions in polar regions, because it can be fitted with Wheel-skis landing gear, de-icing equipment, and a number of other upgrades allowing the aircraft to support operations in Arctic or Antarctic environments. Other An-72 versions include the An-72S VIP transport and An-72P maritime patrol aircraft.
An unusual design feature of the An-72 and An-74 is the use of the Coandă effect to improve STOL performance, utilizing engine exhaust gases blown over the wing's upper surface to boost lift. The first flight was made in August 31, 1977, but it was only in the 1980s that production started. The power plant used is ZMKB Progress D36. The An-72 bears a resemblance to the Boeing YC-14, a prototype design from the early 1970s which had also used overwing engines and the Coandă effect.
The An-72's are often called cheburashka by Russians, because the large engine intake ducts resemble the oversized ears of a popular animated creature in Russian cartoons.
The price for a new built An-74 in 2006 is quoted as being $17-20 million.
An-72 'Coaler-A' - Pre production aircraft. Two flying prototypes, one static test airframe and 8 pre-production machines.
An-72A 'Coaler-C' - Initial production STOL transport with a longer fuselage and increased wing span.
An-72AT - 'Coaler-C' - Freight version of the An-72A compatible with standard international shipping containers.
An-72S - 'Coaler-C' - Executive VIP transport fitted with a galley in a front cabin, work and rest areas in a central cabin, and 24 armchairs in a rear cabin, can also be reconfigured for transporting freight or 38 passengers or as an air ambulance carrying eight stretchers.
An-74 - Arctic/Antarctic support model with room for five crew, increased fuel capacity, larger radar in bulged nose radome, improved navigation equipment, better de-icing equipment, and can be fitted with Wheel-skis landing gear.
An-74A - Passenger or freighter model.
An-74MP - Marine Patrol version. Can transport 44 soldiers, 22 para-troops, 16 stretchers with medical staff, or 10 tonnes of cargo.
An-72P - Patrol aircraft.
An-74T - Freighter version equipped with an internal winch, roller equipment, and cargo mooring points, can also be fitted with static lines for paratroops or dropping air cargo.
An-74T-100 - Variant of the An-74T fitted with a navigator station.
An-74TK - Convertible passenger/cargo model that can be equipped for up to 52 passengers, all cargo, or a mix of the two.
An-74TK-100 - Variant of the An-74TK fitted with a navigator station.
An-74TK-300 - Upgraded model primarily for civil customers with more fuel efficient engines in a conventional underwing position, lacks the STOL capabilities of earlier models but is less expensive to operate.
An-74T-200 - Military Transport aircraft
An-74T-200A - Military Transport aircraft
An-74TK-300D - Only An-74 with engines underneath the wings!
An-74-400 - Proposed stretch model of the An-74TK-300 with a fuselage insert to extend length by 26 ft (8 m), also would be equipped with uprated engines.
In August 2006 a total of 51 Antonov An-72 and Antonov An-74 aircraft remain in airline service. Major operators include Badr Airlines (3), Air Armenia (3), Enimex (5), Gazpromavia (12), and Shar Ink (8). Some 17 other airlines operate smaller numbers of the type.
Published - July 2009
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