The giant Antonov 124 made a big impression when it arrived at the airport for a special cargo.
The ‘workhorse’ – the world’s second heaviest operating cargo aircraft –was at the International to collect a consignment of aircraft parts bound for Toronto.
The Antonov, with front and read loading, is the height of a five or six-storey building (21 metres) with a wingspan of 74 metres. From nose to tail, it measures 69 metres.
The transporter travels with its own skilful loading crew who, during breaks, delight is explaining the jaw-dropping statistics of the aircraft.
Once airborne, cruising speed is 490 MPH. Given its size, and weight of cargo, the Antonov 124 needs a long runway for landing and take-off, which makes the International one of the few airports capable of accommodating the impressive ‘airlift jet aircraft’, to give it its proper title.
The Antonov has visited the International on several occasions over the past few years, but it never fails to turn heads.
Rod Haskins, BIA Operations and Security Manager, had this to say: “If you’re a ‘plane spotter, then the Antonov 124 is a must-see aircraft. Quite simply, it’s colossal. All you have to do is stand beside the huge wheels to gain a real appreciation of just how massive it is. Inside, its cavernous and very practical with few, if any, frills.”
The cargo facility at the airport is an integral part of the Northern Ireland economy. Thousands of manufacturing jobs in engineering, pharma, agri-food and nanotechnology depend on being able to deliver their products, and Belfast International is the ‘lifeline’ they use to their overseas customers.