World’s Second-Biggest Cargo Plane Loads At Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, USA — Tuesday was a day of superlatives at Niagara Falls International Airport, as the world’s second-largest cargo plane sat on upstate New York’s longest runway and got loaded up with equipment for the world’s tallest building.

A Ukrainian Antonov 124 cargo plane.

A Ukrainian Antonov 124 arrived in the region to take on a 65-ton (58,968 kilograms) load of compressors from Ascension Industries of North Tonawanda.

“It was awesome,” said Frank Pastori, Ascension’s sales director. “The flat bed trailer we used to load the plane looked miniature by comparison. It was really quite impressive.”

The four-engine plane is 69 feet (21 meters) high, 226 feet (69 meters) long and has a 240-foot (73-meter) wingspan.

It landed in Niagara Falls because the main runway, at just under 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), is the only one in upstate that can handle an aircraft of such size.

“It was enormous,” said Mark Pierson, Ascension’s project manager. “It was [roughly] the length of a football field.”

It took six tractor-trailer drops and seven hours to load the aircraft with the four compressors, which will be used to run a power generating station to produce electricity for the world’s tallest building, at 1,922 feet (586 meters), currently under construction in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The aircraft touched down at 7 p.m. Monday after a 10-hour flight from Guinea in Africa, and had motorists on Niagara Falls Boulevard doing a double-take until it lumbered off the airport runway Tuesday afternoon.

Many pulled into the airport parking lot for a closer look at the huge white aircraft gleaming on the tarmac. “It attracted a lot of motorists,” said Debbie Doyle, general manager of Niagara Falls Aviation, the fixed base operator at the airport.

The world’s largest cargo plane — an Antonov 200 — is owned by the same company, Ruslan International of Kiev, Ukraine. The bigger plane is 59 feet (18 meters) high and 275 feet (84 meters) long, with a 290-foot (88-meter)wingspan.

Ascension Industries assembled the compressors for Atlas Copco of Voorheesville, outside Albany. Brown Electric of the City of Tonawanda did the electrical work and Hilcrest Coating of Attica painted the compressors battleship gray.

“All these Western New York companies working together,” Pierson said. “It was great to be a part of that.”

The plane’s 18-man crew — seven flight crew and 10 laborers — spent most of the night loading the compressors.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, gorged with 92,000 gallons (348,258 liters) of fuel and weighing 893,000 pounds (405,058 kilograms), the plane began its roll down the runway.

“The aircraft took off very slowly,” said Doyle. “It needed all of that runway.”

Source: Buffalo News

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