INCREDIBLE: The 54 Year Old Antonov That’s Still Flying

A little-known yet long-standing Ukrainian carrier by the name of Motor Sich Airlines has been flying its Antonov AN-12B quite regularly in recent months. The 54-year-old turboprop flew from its home at Zaporizhzhia (OZH) in Ukraine to Paris Vatry Chalons Airport (XCR) yesterday. However, in recent times the aircraft has also flown some incredibly exotic routes such as Tbilisi to Kabul, Brno to Cairo, Oslo to Amman, and Ankara to Prague. What do we know about this plane and the work that it performs?

What is the AN-12?

According to Air Charter Service, the AN-12 is the Soviet equivalent of the American Lockheed C-130 Hercules. This aircraft entered into service in 1959 and was the standard medium-range cargo transport of the Soviet air forces for more than three decades.

What made (and continues to make) the AN-12 a useful aircraft is its short runway capabilities and lifting power. Combine this power with its high-mounted wings and raised tail, and the aircraft becomes a valuable asset for cargo transport- especially when serving some remote corners of the world.

Production of the AN-12 type cargo aircraft ceased in 1973.

AN-12 specifications

According to, these are the specifications for the Antonov AN-12:

  • Capacity: 20,000 kg (44,092 lb) payload
  • Dimensions: 33.1 m (108 ft 7 in) long and 10.53 m (34 ft 7 in) high
  • Wingspan: 38 m (124 ft 8 in)
  • MTOW: 61,000 kg (134,482 lb)
  • Maximum speed: 660 km/h (410 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 570 km/h (350 mph)
  • Range: 5,700 km (3,500 mi, 3,100 nmi) with maximum fuel, 3,600 km (2,200 mi; 1,900 nmi) with maximum payload

The specific aircraft that drew our attention to this type is the AN-12B. While we don’t have the specifics on this variant, we can tell you that some 60 different variants were produced. Upgrades of the type included increased take-off weights and additional fuel capacity.

Serving remote corners of the planet

According to, Motor Sich Airlines has been flying its AN-12s on some incredibly interesting routes.

It’s impressive that this aircraft (or any aircraft) is still flying after 50 years of regular operation. Indeed, it’s a testament to solid maintenance and quality construction.


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