Antonov An-72

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Russia Air Force An-72 RA-72979 CKL 2006-2-7.png
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 22 December 1977
Status In service
Primary users Russian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
Produced 1977–present
Number built 195 (An-72 & An-74)[1]
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).[2] 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, utilizing engine exhaust gases blown over the wing's upper surface to boost lift. The first flight was made on 31 August 1977, but it was only in the 1980s that production started. The powerplant used is the Lotarev D-36 turbofan engine.[3] The An-72 bears a resemblance to the Boeing YC-14,[2] a prototype design from the early 1970s (design submitted to the Air Force in February 1972[4]) 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 can be airdropped while there are folding side seats for 52 passengers.

Russian Aerospace Forces and Navy are upgrading 6 An-72 aircraft for Arctic operations.[5]

Operational history[edit]

The An-72 has STOL capabilities: its takeoff roll is 620 metres and its landing run is 420 metres.[6] 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.

In January 1997 and 1998, the Paris-Dakar rally was assisted by two An-72 aircraft. In 1999, a total of four aircraft of this type joined the rally.


  • 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.[7]
  • 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.


Civil operators[edit]

Two An-72s at Tallinn Airport in 2006

In August 2006, a total of 51 An-72 and Antonov An-74 aircraft were in airline service. Major operators include Badr Airlines (three), and Shar Ink (eight). Some 17 other airlines operate smaller numbers of the type.[8]

  • Darta

Military operators[edit]

A Russian Navy An-72 showing the front view that resembles 'Cheburashka'.
 Equatorial Guinea

Former military operators[edit]

 Soviet Union

Accidents and incidents[edit]

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 7½ in)
  • Height: 8.65 m (28 ft 4½ in)
  • Wing area: 98.62 m2 (1,062 ft2)
  • Empty weight: 19,050 kg (42,000 lb)
  • Gross weight: 34,500 kg (76,058 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Lotarev D-36 series 1A, 63.9 kN (14,330 lbf) thrust each


  • Maximum speed: 700 km/h (435 mph)
  • Cruising speed: 550 / 600 km/h (342 / 373 mph)
  • Range: 4,325 km (2,688 miles)

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists




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

External links[edit]