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Russia Air Force An-72 RA-72979 CKL 2006-2-7.png
A Russian Air Force An-72 on short finals in to Chkalovsky Airport
Role Military transport
National origin Soviet Union
Manufacturer Antonov
First flight 22 December 1977
Status Operational
Primary users Russian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
Produced 1977–present
Variants Antonov An-74
Developed into Antonov An-71

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

The An-72 and 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 developmentEdit

The An-72 first flew in December 1977 (1977-12).[1] 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 August 31, 1977, but it was only in the 1980s that production started. The power plant used is the Lotarev D-36 turbofan engine.[2] The An-72 bears a resemblance to the Boeing YC-14,[1] a prototype design from the early 1970s 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 whilst there are folding side seats for 52 passengers.

Operational historyEdit

The An-72 has STOL capabilities: its takeoff roll is 620 metres and its landing run is 420 metres.[3] 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": Pre production aircraft. Two flying prototypes, one static test airframe and eight pre-production machines.
  • An-72A "Coaler-C": Initial production STOL transport with a longer fuselage and increased wing span.
  • 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.[4]
  • 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 operatorsEdit

Antonov An-72 ES-NOG

Two An-72s at Tallinn Airport in 2006

In August 2006, a total of 51 An-72 and Antonov An-74 aircraft remain in airline service. Major operators include Badr Airlines (three), Air Armenia (three), Enimex (five), Gazpromavia (12), and Shar Ink (eight). Some 17 other airlines operate smaller numbers of the type.[5]

Flag of Armenia.svg Armenia
Flag of Estonia.svg Estonia
Flag of France.svg France
  • Darta
Flag of Russia.svg Russia
Flag of Sudan.svg Sudan
Flag of Ukraine.svg Ukraine

Military operatorsEdit

Russian Navy Antonov An-72 Dvurekov-1

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

Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg Equatorial Guinea
Flag of Moldova.svg Moldova
Flag of Russia.svg Russia
Flag of Ukraine.svg Ukraine

Former military operatorsEdit

Flag of Angola.svg Angola
Flag of Armenia.svg Armenia
Flag of Georgia.svg Georgia
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg Kazakhstan
Flag of Libya (1977–2011).svg Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Flag of Peru.svg Peru
Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • 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.[6]
  • On 25 December 2012, an An-72 carrying Kazakhstani border patrol officials crashed in Shymkent, killing all 27 people on board.[7][8]

Specifications (An-74)Edit

Data from The Osprey Encyclopaedia of Russian Aircraft 1875–1995

General characteristics
  • Crew: five
  • Capacity: up to 52 passengers
  • 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 alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 July 2013 "New Stol freighter unveiled". 21 January 1978. p. 163. Archived from the original. Error: If you specify |archiveurl=, you must also specify |archivedate=. July 2013. 
  2. Penney, Stewart (4 August 1999). July 2013 "Military Aircraft Directory Part 1". London: Flightglobal. Archived from the original. Error: If you specify |archiveurl=, you must also specify |archivedate=. July 2013. 
  3.[dead link]
  4. Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide, 1999
  5. Flight International, 3–9 October 2006
  6. "ASN Aircraft accident: Antonov 72 ER-ACF between Abidjan and Rundu." Aviation Safety Network, 2010. Retrieved: 27 June 2011.
  7. Toh, Mavis (26 December 2012). July 2013 "An-72 crashes in Kazakhstan, killing 27". Singapore: Flightglobal. Archived from the original. Error: If you specify |archiveurl=, you must also specify |archivedate=. July 2013. 
  8. "Military plane carrying 27 crashes in Kazakhstan". AFP. 25 December 2012. Archived from the original on 25 December 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2012. 


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

External linksEdit

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