Air Transportation: C-130skis Dying Of Old Age

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August 24, 2011: Russia has recently grounded all An-12 transports after one developed problems with one of its four turboprop engines and crashed in the Far East. The Russian answer to the American C-130, the 61 ton An-12 entered service in 1959 (two years after the C-130), but production ceased in 1973 (after 1280 were built). The 70 ton C-130 remains in production and over 2,300 have been built. 

Hundreds of An-12s are still in service, mostly with cut-rate airlines in out-of-the-way areas. In the last two years, five An-12s have crashed (in Egypt, two in Congo, the Philippines and Russia). The current grounding will remain in effect until all operational aircraft can be checked for some common flaw. Actually, all these aircraft do have a common problem; old age. The average operational An-12 is over 40 years. Maintenance is often skimpy and flying one of these aircraft is literally a death-defying event.

There was no successor to the An-12, unless you count the larger, and jet powered, Il-76. There was an improved An-12 (An-40) proposed, but it was decided that two engine turboprop aircraft and the Il-76 would be sufficient.

 


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