Antonov’s An-70 airlifter has passed Ukrainian Ministry of Defence structural tests, the company has announced, as the programme slowly moves forward to production next year.
Antonov has accomplished the full range of tests, calculations and strength tests that were envisaged for the programme, including the static testing of wing devices, control surfaces, an engine installation, landing gear legs and doors, the radar dome etc. the company said yesterday.
The tests have shown that the aircraft design meets damage tolerance requirements, the aircraft is easy to inspect and can be operated without major repairs, Antonov added.
The tests also proved the design integrity of the An-70. As the result of the tests, the aircraft received a certificate of Russia’s Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute confirming its static structural strength.
The tests removed structural limitations for the completion of joint flight tests, Antontov said. Flight testing is still underway following an extensive modernisation process. Following modifications, the An-70 made 30 test flights totalling about 50 hours. On the whole, the An-70 prototype model performed about 670 flights totaling more than 710 hours.
Russia and Ukraine are jointly developing the An-70 military airlifter, which has been in the works for more than 20 years. Russia pulled out in 2006 but rejoined the programme in 2010 and estimates a requirement for around 60 An-70s aircraft by 2020, although it is concerned by the slow pace of development. Series production is scheduled to start next year at the Kazan Aviation Production Association (KAPA), with the first two aircraft going to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Further testing of the aircraft is scheduled for later this year.
The An-70 offers A400M class performance at half the cost, with a maximum cargo capacity of 47 tonnes (versus the A400M’s 37 tonnes) and a cargo hold size of 425 cubic meters, while that of the A400M-is 340 cubic meters. Thanks to its propfan engines, it has a very high cruising speed and can take off and land in short distances (700 metres).