Antonov An-72

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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 (1977-08-31)[1]
Status In service
Primary users Russian Aerospace Forces
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,[3] 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]

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.

The An-72 first flew on 31 August 1977 and was likely developed as a response to the never-manufactured USAF Advanced Medium STOL Transport (AMST) initiated ten years earlier.[4] 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.

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.[5] The An-72 resembles the unsuccessful Boeing YC-14,[6] a prototype design from the early 1970s (design submitted to the United States Air Force in February 1972,[7]) 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 tonnes (7.4 long tons; 8.3 short tons) 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.[8]


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).[9] 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-71 "Madcap": Prototype AWACS aircraft developed from the An-72.
  • 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 millimetres (0.91 in) GSh-23L cannon plus bombs and/or rockets.[10]
  • An-72R (also known as An-72BR): Prototype electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft, with conformal antenna fairings running up each side of the fuselage.[11] Known as 'Aircraft 88' during development and erroneously known as An-88.
  • An-72-100: Demilitarized An-72.[11]
  • An-72-100D: Demilitarized An-72S.[11]
  • 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 included Badr Airlines (three), and Shar Ink (eight). Some 17 other airlines operated this aircraft.[citation needed] Current civil operators:

Military operators[edit]

As of December 2021, 45 aircraft are in military service:[12]

Former military operators[edit]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

As of May 2022, there have been 24 known accidents and incidents involving the An-72 or An-74; of these, the following involved fatalities:[14]

Specifications (An-72)[edit]

Data from The Osprey Encyclopædia of Russian Aircraft 1875–1995[26]

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)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Lotarev D-36 series 1A Turbofan, 63.9 kN (14,330 lbf) thrust each


  • 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. ^ QuinteroCompany [@AntonovCompany] (2018-08-31). "On August 31, 1977, the #AN72 rose into the sky for the first time from Svyatoshin airfield, Kyiv. AN-72 is the first jet of the #Antonov aircraft family. The maiden flight was performed by the crew consisting of V. Terskyo, captain, S. Quintero, co-pilor" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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External links[edit]