Antonov An-72

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Russian Air Force - Antonov An-72.jpg
A Russian Air Force An-72 on short final in to Chkalovsky Airport
Role Transport aircraft
National origin Soviet Union/Ukraine
Manufacturer Antonov
First flight 31 August 1977[1]
Status In service
Primary users Russian Air Force
Russian Navy
Angolan Air Force
Produced 1977–present
Number built 195 (An-72 & An-74)[2]
Variants Antonov An-74
Developed into Antonov An-71

The Antonov An-72 (NATO reporting name: Coaler) is a Soviet/Ukrainian transport aircraft, developed by Antonov. It was designed as an STOL transport and intended as a replacement for the Antonov An-26, but variants have found success as commercial freighters.

The An-72 and the related An-74 get their nickname, Cheburashka, from the large engine intake ducts, which resemble the oversized ears of the popular Soviet animated character of the same name.

Design and development[edit]

The An-72 first flew in December 1977 (1977-12).[3] Produced in tandem with the An-72, the 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 is the use of the Coandă effect to improve STOL performance, using engine exhaust gases blown over the wing's upper surface to boost lift. Its first flight was made on 31 August 1977, but production started in the late 1980s. The powerplant used is the Lotarev D-36 turbofan engine.[4] The An-72 bears some resemblance to the unsuccessful Boeing YC-14,[3] a prototype design from the early 1970s (design submitted to the Air Force in February 1972,[5]) which had also used overwing engines and the Coandă effect.

The rear fuselage of the aircraft has a hinged loading ramp with a rear fairing that slides backwards and up to clear the opening. Up to 7.5 tons[clarification needed] can be airdropped while it has folding side seats for 52 passengers.

In 2018, six An-72 aircraft were reported to be upgraded for the Russian Aerospace Forces and Navy to carry more fuel and payload for Arctic operations.[6]


The An-72 has STOL capabilities; its take-off roll is 620 m (2,000 ft) and its landing run is 420 m (1,400 ft).[7] This aircraft was designed to be used on unprepared surfaces; its robust undercarriage and high-flotation tyres allow operations on sand, grass, or other unpaved surfaces.


Russian Border Guard An-72P at Vladivostok Airport
  • An-72 "Coaler-A": Preproduction aircraft. Two flying prototypes, one static test airframe and eight preproduction machines.
  • An-72A "Coaler-C": Initial production STOL transport with a longer fuselage and increased wingspan.
  • 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-72P: Patrol aircraft. Armed with one 23 mm GSh-23L cannon plus bombs and/or rockets.[8]
  • 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.


A Russian Navy An-72 showing the front view that resembles 'Cheburashka'.
Ukraine National Guard An-72 at Zhulyany Airport
Kazakhstan Border Guard Antonov An-72-100

Civilian operators[edit]

In August 2006, in total, 51 An-72 and Antonov An-74 aircraft were in airline service. The major operators include Badr Airlines (three), and Shar Ink (eight). Some 17 other airlines operate fewer of the type.[9]


Military operators[edit]

As of December 2018, 42 aircraft are in military service:[10]

 Equatorial Guinea

Former military operators[edit]

 Soviet Union

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 10 February 1995, an Antonov An-72 chase plane had a mid-air collision while following the Antonov An-70 prototype aircraft during a test flight. The collision caused the An-70 to crash into a forested area, killing all seven An-70 crew members.[11] The An-72 lost a right wing flap,[12] but it was able to return to base safely.[11]
  • On 22 December 1997, ER-ACF, an Antonov An-72 disappeared on a cargo flight from Port Bouet Airport, Côte d'Ivoire to Rundu Airport, Namibia. The aircraft and its five crew members disappeared without a trace over the South Atlantic. The cause of the incident remains undetermined.[13]
  • On 25 December 2012, an An-72 carrying Kazakhstani border patrol officials crashed in Shymkent, killing all 27 people on board.[14][15]
  • On 1 November 2013, a Congolese An-72-100 overran the runway at Kisangani Bangoka International Airport. It suffered major damage and caught fire.[16]
  • 7 July 2019, an Equatorial Guinea Air Force An-72P crashed into the sea near Campo, Grand Batanga, Kribi.[17] All seven occupants survived and were rescued.[18]
  • On 11 October 2019, an An-72 operated for the DRC Air Force with 4 crew and 4 passengers crashed in Congo.[19]

Specifications (An-72)[edit]

Antonov An-72 3view.svg

Data from The Osprey Encyclopaedia of Russian Aircraft 1875–1995

General characteristics

  • Crew: five
  • Capacity: up to 52 passengers or 10 tonnes of cargo
  • Length: 28.07 m (92 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 31.89 m (104 ft 7.5 in)
  • Height: 8.65 m (28 ft 4.5 in)
  • Wing area: 98.62 m2 (1,062 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 19,050 kg (42,000 lb)
  • Gross weight: 34,500 kg (76,058 lb)


  • Maximum speed: 700 km/h (435 mph, 378 kn)
  • Range: 4,325 km (2,688 mi, 2,336 nmi)

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ "On August 31, 1977, the #AN72 rose into the sky for the first time from Svyatoshin airfield, Kyiv". Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  2. ^ "✈ ✈ наша авиация". Archived from the original on 10 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b "New Stol freighter unveiled". Flight International: 163. 21 January 1978. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014.
  4. ^ Penney, Stewart (4 August 1999). "Military Aircraft Directory Part 1". London: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 1 June 2013.
  5. ^ "1975 - 0194 - Flight Archive". Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Russia upgrading An-72 airlifters for Artic operations". Air Recognition. 8 June 2018. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 10 June 2018 – via
  7. ^ "TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS". Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  8. ^ Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide, 1999
  9. ^ Flight International, 3–9 October 2006
  10. ^ "World Air Forces 2019". Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  11. ^ a b Velovich, Alexander (22–28 February 1995). "An-70 crash threatens programme's future". Flight International. 147 (4460): 8. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Human error blamed in An-70 crash". Flight International. 147 (4464): 19. 22–28 March 1995. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  13. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident: Antonov 72 ER-ACF between Abidjan and Rundu." Archived 4 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Aviation Safety Network, 2010. Retrieved: 27 June 2011.
  14. ^ Toh, Mavis (26 December 2012). "An-72 crashes in Kazakhstan, killing 27". Singapore: Flightglobal. Flight International. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Military plane carrying 27 crashes in Kazakhstan". AFP. 25 December 2012. Archived from the original on 28 December 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Карточка самолёта: Антонов · Ан-72-100 · EK-72101 (зав.н. 36572040548) ✈ ✈ наша авиация".
  17. ^ "Lostarmour ID: 20807".
  18. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Antonov An-72P 032 Grand Batanga".
  19. ^ "An-72 crash site located in Democratic Republic of Congo" with Russian citizens reported on board.


  • Gunston, Bill. The Osprey Encyclopaedia of Russian Aircraft 1875–1995. London: Osprey, 1995. ISBN 1-85532-405-9.

External links[edit]