March 2015 -Disaster in Paradise 04
This morning I had the chance to talk to a flight crew from Ukraine. We are staying in the same Hotel not too far away from the airport. The guys are working for a company called “Antonov Airlines” and their job is to find out if the airport here in Port Vila is suitable for huge cargo planes like the Antonov An-124.
The AN-124 in it’s civil version could bring in about 120 tons of supply at a time and would be perfect for a situation like this. It’s a huge aircraft capable to fly in relief supplies like tents, food and water purification systems. Even a number of vehicle could be taken aboard.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work. The runway of the local airport is not suitable for a safe landing of the AN-124. Instead as soon as tomorrow they will fly in with one of their AN-12 planes. A lot smaller and lighter than the AN-124 but still carrying a load of up to 12 tons.
I’ve been talking and flying a lot with Ukrainian and Russian pilots. These guys can be met in disaster areas all over the planet. Whenever it comes to extra heavy loads to remote places, they do the jobs. With their old fashioned, heavy and very reliable planes they sometimes are the backbone of UN and NGO operations.