Antonov An-22
Antonov An-22

Flying The World’s Biggest TurboProp Antonov An-22

This is a photo trip report of a flight on the world's largest turboprop, the Antonov An-22. The An-22 is not only the biggest turboprop aircraft in the world but it was the first wide-body aircraft in the world!

Join me on a ferry flight from Leipzig to Bremen on the An-22.

Video - Highly Recommended

Ferry Flight to Bremen with 20 Crew

Our journey started at 08:00 in Leipzig, Germany. A total of 20 strong crew from the Antonov team arrived by bus to operate the Antonov An-22, including 6 cockpit crew.

a group of people sitting in a bus
a large airplane on a runway
the front of a plane
a plane on the ground
a propeller on a plane

The An-22 was the first wide body transport aircraft and remains the world's largest turboprop-powered aircraft to date. The An-22 is powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12 engines, each driving a pair of contra-rotating propellers which have a unique sound. Watch the video for the unique scene of the engine starting up.

a large airplane with propellers

The team moved very quickly to prepare for the ferry flight to Bremen. A special shipment was waiting in Bremen, a luxury bus for the Antonov An-22 to transport to Baku.

The Antonov An-22 has its own specially made tow bar, once the plane pushes back the technicians put the tow bar inside and close the door to depart.

The fuselage of the An-22 is approximately 4m high and 4m wide. The plane also carries its own staircase, for technicians to be able to reach the engine during a stop.

a group of people in a plane

The advantage of operating the AN-22 is that you have all the tools and equipment inside the plane, there are no additional requirements. This is very handy at a remote airfield, where there may likely be a lack of equipment.

a large airplane on a runway

2 pilots in the front fly of the Antonov AN-22 cockpit. A flight engineer works on the engine throttle, which is in between the 2 pilots.

a group of people in a plane
a group of people in a plane

A radio controller sits behind the captain.

a man in a pilot's uniform working on a laptop

An additional flight engineer sits on the opposite side to the radio controller.

a man in a pilot's cockpit

In addition there is a navigator who sits below the cockpit, near the glass nose.

a cockpit of an airplane
View from An-22 navigator seat

The An-22 cruised at 20,000 ft. Flight time from Leipzig to Bremen took just 45 minutes and it was a nice sunny day for our flight across Germany.

a plane with propellers in the air
the inside of a plane
a person in the cockpit of an airplane
a man in a pilot's cockpit
a screen with a map on it
a group of men sitting in a room with a window and a door
The flight manager and load master enjoyed breakfast tea during the flight
a white box with instructions on it
The cargo hold of AN-22 is unpressurized. The crew can sit behind the cockpit or on the lower deck in the crew rest.

AN-22 First Time to Bremen

We arrived Bremen in sunny weather, see our landing in the video. It was the first time the An-22 had ever landed in Bremen, a lot of local aviation enthusiasts and spotters came out to watch her land.

During our 3 hour stop in Bremen, I took more photos and explored more of the Antonov AN-22.

a large airplane on a runway
a group of people standing in front of a plane

Captain Mosin informed me that the AN-22 is already 46 years old, with just 80-100 hours left before the decision has to be made as to whether it is retired or its flying life is prolonged. The Antonov team also flies on all the other Antonovs, including An-70, An-124 and An-225 aircraft.

a group of men standing in front of a plane

I presented the crew with my new Air747 book and a painting of AN-22 by a young fan, Noah from Dubai.

a group of men in a plane holding a large piece of paper

Loading a Luxury Bus on to AN-22

After a short wait, the luxury bus arrived at Bremen Airport. Without much difficulty, the bus drove straight inside the An-22 fuselage. It was quite a sight! Watch the loading scenes on video.

a group of people standing next to a bus
a bus and a plane
a large airplane with a bus in it
a bus in a tunnel
Bus fit inside the AN-22 fuselage

Guinness World Record Holder

The An-22 holds a Guinness World record, with its max takeoff weight of 250 tons (551,156 lb). It is also the only wide-body freighter capable of operations at airports with unpaved runways or at a remote airstrip.

a certificate of a flight record

Once we had picked up the special bus shipment in Bremen the An-22 flew back to Leipzig, which would serve as a tech stop before the onward trip to Baku. This is due to the short runway in Bremen, which is only 2km long. In addition, the An-22 received a water cannon salute from Bremen Airport.

According to the pilots, the AN-22 consumes around 6 tons fuel per hour; this is lot less than that of other jet engine cargo planes, which makes the AN-22 operation viable and economical. I hope she remains in the air for many more years to come!

a group of men in a cockpit
a group of men in a cockpit of a plane
a group of men in a cockpit of an airplane

Highlight of 2020

It was probably my highlight in aviation this year. The excitement, the sounds of the 4 turboprop engines and the airmanship on the Antonov are exactly the reasons why I love aviation. It is an adventure! I hope you will share my passion and watch the video below.

For more information on the Antonov An-22, please visit here.