Canada Giving Russian An-124 To Ukraine


Canada will give Ukraine a Russian cargo jet it effectively seized in the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced the Volga-Dnepr An-124 will be transferred to Ukraine. The An-124 is one of the largest cargo aircraft in service and its transfer was part of a new sanctions package announced by Canada last week. Ukraine has not said what it plans to do with the aircraft, which is worth tens of millions of dollars.

The aircraft landed in Toronto on a flight from Anchorage on Feb. 24, 2022, the day of the invasion. It was carrying COVID-related supplies. Canada closed its airspace to all Russian-owned aircraft that day so the An-124 has languished on the ramp at Pearson International Airport racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in parking fees.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. That’s only fitting, since Putin destroyed their An-225, the largest aircraft in the world, in its hangar in Ukraine at the start of the war.

    I was at Oshkosh in 1989 when the An-124 came to the States for the first time. The Air Force also brought its biggest toy, the C-5A. The two aircraft were parked nose-to-nose at airshow center, and there were long lines waiting to tour them. I was fitter then, and climbed what seemed like a four-story ladder to get into the cockpit of Antonov. You could have held a small cocktail party in there, but the most notable thing was that the Galaxy had its nose open and elevated. From the Antonov cockpit, we were looking down (‘way down) on the C-5A’s nose.

    The crew were friendly, eager to talk, and spoke pretty-good English (far better than my “yes”, “no”, and “thank you” in Russian). I asked the pilots about their trip over to the States, and if they had any sort of sat-nav like our GPS. They seemed confused by the question, so I asked if they had GLONASS capability. Many confused looks back and forth, and they professed to have no idea what I was talking about. Apparently, glasnost didn’t go quite that far.

    The other thing I noticed was the quality of the workmanship. Rivet lines often had a serpentine quality to them, interior panels were used only where there seemed to be a structural requirement, and there was a decidedly ad-hoc quality to the engineering. But there was not a single plastic tie-wrap in sight; all wiring bundles were secured with shoelaces, complete with aglets. They were cheap, readily available, and reusable.

  2. I was at ORD at that time. Several of our folks went up to OSH. They came back so surprised by the Russian lack of build quality. Said the difference between us and them was about like between a Yugo and Cadillac, including hydraulic fluids dripping here and there.

  3. I would wait until the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is over. No need to expose this An-124 to the same fate as the other one.