Antonov to resume production of An-74 “Cheburashka” cargo plane?

Shutterstock /Popsuievych

The production of the Antonov-74 transport aircraft could resume in order to supply Ukraine’s armed forces, the country’s government announced on January 16, 2021.

The Antonov An-74 made its first flight in 1979. It initially had the designation An-72A “Arctic”, as it was an upgrade of the An-72 test aircraft for use in the Arctic and Antarctica regions, thanks to the addition of reinforced landing gears. It is capable of flying 4,600 km at a speed of 560 km per hour.  

The aircraft is built around the so-called Coandā effect by mounting the turbofans on the top of the wings to provide high-speed air even at low flying speeds. Boeing’s experimental YC-14 used the same principle. The peculiar position of the engines owed the An-72 and the An-74 their nickname of Cheburashka, after a popular Soviet animated mouse. 

The An-74 main purpose is to deliver cargo, equipment, and personnel over short- and medium-range routes in any climatic conditions at any latitude, including the North Pole and high altitudes. It can operate from low-grade airstrips such as concrete, pebble, ice, and snow aerodromes. 

The production of the aircraft stopped in 2004. It is still used by several civilian and military operators around the world.

On December 30, 2020, Antonov received a state order for the Armed Forces of Ukraine consisting of three AN-178s, the short-range medium-airlift military planes. Deliveries of the three military air vehicles are scheduled to begin in 2023. The deal was  Antonov’s first governmental order in 29 years – since the creation of independent Ukraine.


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