2015 Event Review

Heavy Metal at the Blue Danube Airport in Linz-Hörsching. The kneeling giant Antonov 124 “Ruslan”
Location: Blue Danube Airport Linz Hörsching Austria
Admission:Not open to the public
Value: Excellent
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Like a giant whale, the An-124 opens her mouth to swallow the cargo

Usually we report from air show events or from military airfields but for this occurrence, was fortunate enough to be invited to cover an unusual event that occurred at the Blue Danube Airport, Linz Hörsching, Austria, on August 8th, 2015. The subject of the event was the loading of a 64.8 ton steam super heater. Destination airport was Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

To transport such a heavy object like this steam super heater, the only civilian aircraft that make this transport possible is the Antonov AN-124 "Ruslan" NATO code name Condor.

The international logistic company, Panalpina, was commissioned and authorised for the transport of this huge steam super heater, which was produced by Josef Bertsch GmbH & Co KG, Bludenz Austria. After the challenge with the road transportation from the most western part of Austria (just east of Liectenstein) to the Blue Danube airport located in Linz Hörsching, the precious and heavy cargo made in time. The next challenge was the loading of the freight onboard. With only 13cm clearance to the left and right side, the experts from three different companies (Antonov Airlines; Panalpina logistics and Felbermayr cranes) had to coordinate everything together.  The loading started  at 10:00 am, first the loading ramp had to be prepared that alone weighs in at 7 tonnes. The ramp was ready for use in less than one hour. When the ramp was ready, the truck with the steam super heater drove in front of the aircraft where two heavy-duty cranes were positioned to pick up in synchrony with the huge lifting hooks. Extra care had to be utilized as not to damage the aircraft or the cargo during these procedures.  

Once the  cargo was on lifted to the ramp, which functions like a rail system, the cargo has been secured by the Antonov crew with chains, the cargo was slowly entered into the belly of the Antonov.  Like a huge whale swallowing a large fish! This was a completely autonomous operation  with a built in winch onboard the aircraft that pulled in the cargo.  Once the cargo was inside the Antonov, the  crew started  to take apart the ramp. While this was happening additional parts of the super heater in heavy wooden crates were brought to the rear ramp of the aircraft. The crates were lifted onboard with aircraft’s own cranes in the belly of this giant. When everything was onboard and secured, the most fascinating part was performed by the Antonov’s crew: closing the front section of the aircraft. By 2 p.m. the crew closed both the  the front hood and the rear cargo doors and the aircraft was ready for takeoff. The takeoff was planned for later on the day between the evening  and early  dawn of the next day. 

The Antonov Airlines has seven AntonovAn 124 “Ruslan” in service. First flight of an Antonov 124 “Ruslan” was an 26 December 1982.  In summary 56 aircraft were built. Maximum weight of cargo is 150 tons and the maximum take-off weight is 450 tons.

would like to thank the following people for their invitation as well as for their cordial cooperation; Ms. Andrea Zach Assistant to the Business Unit Manager Linz from Panalpina, and the Flight Manager from Antonov Airlines, Ingo Hagedorn, Marketing Blue Danube Airpport Linz-Hörsching. Special thanks the Flight Manager, Mr. Eugene Kiva from Antonov Airlines for the guided tour onboard the giant.

Report and photography by Wolfgang Jarisch for

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