Chapman Freeborn and Antonov Airlines recently transported 370 tonnes of mining plant equipment from Melbourne to Brazil in three Antonov An-124 aircraft.

The client required new parts for its mining plant in Brazil and was under a strict time constraint to get the parts in time to update the machinery involved. The parts were very large and susceptible to bending and breakage.

The journey was not without challenges: it was broken up, with many fuel and rest stops in places including Dakar, Deli, Baku, Germany, Iceland, the US and Suriname. The COVID-19 pandemic presented some obstacles, too; the flights had limited crew members, so they had to land for frequent rest stops, rather than crew swaps taking place whilst in the air. Each rest stop entailed the crew being escorted to a hotel for approximately 12 hours for sleep and the aircraft being refuelled before the flight could depart again.

The An-124 is specifically designed for heavy cargo and there have only been 55 in existence since the aircraft was first manufactured in 1982. Today, just 19 are currently in operation.