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UAE bans Russian An-12 Cargo aircraft operations

Classic view of the An-12 over the Himalayas. Indian Air Force photo

ABU DHABI (BNS): The United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities have banned flights of Soviet-made An-12 cargo aircraft from January 13 ignoring protests from the air cargo companies, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The flight restriction order was issued after the aircraft was involved in an accident at Sharjah international airport on January 2. Nobody was injured when the plane skidded off the landing strip, but the authorities held that the old aircraft was a security hazard.

The UAE civil aviation authorities, while issuing the ban order, said that it was in the interests of safety of the population and the airspace of the country.

But air cargo operators are agitated with the ban saying it is a safe aircraft. Most of the operators have been flying Soviet built An-12 which has come to be known as a workhorse. Representatives of 14 air cargo companies flying An-12s had appealed against the decision to ban. They claimed that the authorities should explain how the aircraft was unsafe.

“This is a claim that is not supported b y any particular document or evidence,” a spokesperson of the cargo companies was quoted as saying by the agencies. The operators claimed that the incident on January 2 was a result of fault by air crew and not the aircraft.

The four-engine turbo-prop, built in Ukraine, is used by a large number of operators for transporting goods to Africa, South Asia and the Middle East from Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Dubai and Fujairah. The aircraft has become an important component of trade from the Middle East to the surrounding regions.

The operators claim that a large number of people would be affected by the ban as more than 50 An-12s were in service. It would become difficult for operators to compensate for the losses. An-12 is cost effective and easy to handle aircraft which has made significant contribution trade, they claimed.

The variants of Antonov aircraft are used in a large number of countries particularly in the developing world. They mostly fly in Africa and the Middle East. In India, An-32, another version of An-12, is widely used for military aviation. In fact, India has one of the biggest fleets of An-32 operating anywhere in the world. An-12s came into service in the late 1950s and the production ended in the 70s. But they continue to be the preferred choice of cargo operators as the aircraft are sturdy and operate from any airfields.

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