Construction equipment flies aboard world’s largest aircraft

Three excavators and two bulldozers took a five-hour ride on the world’s largest airplane July 17 to get from Prague, Czech Republic, to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where they will be used to build a long-distance pipeline.

Plynostav Pardubice Holding, a construction company based in the Czech Republic, needed to move the machines quickly and other transportation alternatives were not as efficient as air travel, said David Benton, director of corporate communications for Menlo Worldwide Forwarding, the company that arranged the flight.

“It turned out to be a very smooth move,” he said. “The plane even left early.”

The equipment operators took the 2,660-mile journey with the machines, driving them onto the aircraft and unloading them in Uzbekistan. Jump seats were added to the cargo plane to accommodate the operators.

Only one Antonov 225 exists, and it was built to transport the Soviet Union’s space shuttle. The aircraft made its first voyage in December 1988. The plane’s maximum payload is 250 tons and its wingspan is 290 feet. “It’s an exceptional plane for heavy lifts,” Benton said.

In early July Menlo Worldwide arranged shipment of a bulldozer and an excavator, jointly weighing 105 tons, for the same customer on a smaller Antonov plane. An additional 195 tons of contruction equipment was to be transported by train from Prague to Tashkent, but Plynostav Pardubice needed to begin construction as soon as possible. So Menlo moved the remaining equipment using the larger AN-225.

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