Medical equipment: a frenzy for the largest aircraft in the world

Matériel médical: frénésie pour le plus gros avion au monde

A rare visit of the largest passenger airliner in the world, full of gowns of protection. Enough to inspire a frenzy among the fans of aviation and of the relief for health workers.

The Antonov an-225, a behemoth of 300 tonnes, powered by six engines, was finally laid to Mirabel at 20: 22, Friday evening. This is the only example ever built of this device to the end of the soviet era.

“This is the culmination of several weeks of work,” said a delighted Marco Prud’homme, president Nolinor Aviation, who coordinated this mission out of the ordinary.

The giant plane that landed Friday evening to Mirabel at the end of a month of preparations.

“Gowns, we had to look forward to have,” says a source in the government, under the guise of anonymity.

The giant plane has transported more than 1,000 cubic metres of goods, or millions of blouses.

The theft has sparked a keen interest. People have offered to serve as volunteers to unload the plane. Aéroports de Montréal has felt the need to tell the planespotters not to go to Mirabel and asked for a police presence on site.

“Swamped with requests “

“We had really under-estimated the magnitude that it would take. We have been inundated, with calls and texting : people have been very creative to get in touch with us “, tells Mr. Prud’homme.

The last time they had seen a AN-225 in Mirabel, this was in 2012 because of an emergency diversion.

For Nolinor, the operation has not been easy, far from it. Even if the company has years of experience in the field, everything is more complicated these days because of the rush world for equipment protection.

Marco Prud’homme wanted at all costs to avoid that the plane Ukrainian leaves China empty, as it happened to other aircraft chartered by the Canada, last week.

In the hours that followed the landing of the AN-225 at the airport of Tianjin, near Beijing, on Wednesday, Mr. Prud’homme has had a lot of trouble to know what was happening on the ground.

“It has been a challenge : there are not many people who speaks English there,” he noted.

To get the time right, Nolinor has been used to Quebecers of chinese origin, who had contacts in Tianjin.


The merchandise arrived very late at the airport so that customs was closed. It was therefore necessary to wait until the next day for duty.

In addition, the inspection procedure is time-consuming due to new measures put in place by China to prevent the export of poor quality products.

“When we started to receive photos of the cargo which had arrived at the airport and the loading began, it was encouraging,” said Marco Prud’homme. It took no less than eight hours to fill the plane to the brim.

The delay, however, has had the effect of forcing the 22-member crew spend the night in Anchorage, Alaska, to take a rest.

It is, therefore, three and a half days after his arrival in China that the Antonov has landed at Quebec. Unloading its precious cargo continued into the night.

45 000 $ per hour

How much cost for the operation ? In normal times, the services of the AN-225 cost around 45 000 $ per hour, which represents more than 600 000 $ for a 14 hour flight between Québec and China. The prices, however, have exploded recently with the discontinuance of most passenger flights, which has reduced the supply of transport.

“For us, it has not been more expensive than usual “, provides, however, Stephen Arbib, CEO of Momentum Solutions, which take advantage of its long business relationship with Antonov Airlines Nolinor and Quebec.

Momentum has often used the AN-225 to transport tanks, helicopters and even planes for the account of the national Defence.


(hours local)

Arrival in Tianjin : Wednesday at 17: 01

Departure from Tianjin : Thursday, at 22: 53

Arrival to Anchorage (layover) : Thursday at 16: 47

Departure from Anchorage : Friday, at 9: 58 am

Arrival at Mirabel : Friday at 20: 22

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