Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute
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TsAGI Centenary in the history of aviation: the An-22 aircraft

12 March 2018

  • Aeroelastic An-22 model study in the T-104 wind tunnel (1963-1964) Aeroelastic An-22 model study in the T-104 wind tunnel (1963-1964)
  • An-22 Antheus transport aircraft An-22 Antheus transport aircraft

The An-22 Antheus super heavy transport aircraft took off on its maiden flight on 27 February 1965. It was the top aircraft in its class in terms of lift capability (over 60 t) and size (length — 57.3 m, wing span — 64.4 m) at that time.

The An-22 is designed for long-range transportation of heavy and bulky military equipment and troops as well as for air assault parachuting and drop landing.

The aircraft was built using a wide range of unconventional approaches. The main innovation was a fuselage with a very large cargo compartment (4.4 m × 4.4 m and 33.4 m in length). For such an aircraft it was critical to ensure a high level of lift-drag ratio and lifting capacity. TsAGI experts developed the aerodynamic configuration of the aircraft, its high-efficiency power plant with coaxial propellers (6.2 m in diameter), as well as the control system. The studies performed at TsAGI contributed to the creation of a safe transport aircraft with a unique carrying capacity (60–80 t) and range (up to 5,000 km).

The main advantages of the Antheus, as well as of all the Antonov aircraft, are take-off and landing performance, capability to operate from unpaved airfields, reliability and efficiency. The high lift on takeoff was reached through the use of a high-aspect wing made of TsAGI profiles with heavy duty double-slotted flaps blown by propeller slipstreams. The An-22 is the world’s only turboprop transport aircraft able to land and takeoff from unpaved and snow- or ice-covered runways with heavy bulky cargo aboard. Using a figurative expression of O. K. Antonov, “this is an all-terrain air transport.”

The Antheus was and remains the world’s largest turboprop aircraft. Being safe and easy to control, as well as simple to operate, the An-22 is a pioneer of Soviet wide-body aircraft.

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