30 October 2010

Antonov 2R

As far as Russian planes go, there are 3 manufacturers whose names stand above the rest - Antonov, Tupolev and Yakovlev.

The 1st and 3rd had representation at Festa al Cel this year, and Antonov's 2R biplane was the better known.

This remarkable aircraft is a derivative of the original An-2 which was manufactured in its model variants from 1946 until 1991.  It stood in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest production run of any aircraft, but was only recently overtaken by the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

The An-2 had many guises, but was better known as a crop-duster for which it was initially built.  It has also been used as a people and cargo carrier, firefighter and a parachute drop aircraft. 

The Fundació Parc Aeronàutic de Catalunya plane on display at Festa al Cel was a 2R which is a crop-dusting derivative of the An-2, and originally fitted with a large tank to hold the chemicals.

An interesting feature of the Antonov was that it had no stall speed - the speed at which aircraft stop flying and fall back to Earth.

The pilot's handbook said, "If the engine quits in instrument conditions (blind flying when you can't see the ground) or at night, the pilot should pull the control column full aft (it won't stall) and keep the wings level. The leading-edge slats will snap out at about 64 km/h (40 mph), and when the airplane slows to a forward speed of about 40 km/h (25 mph), the airplane will sink at about a parachute descent rate until the aircraft hits the ground."

Pilots also report that the aircraft is fully in control at 30mph - incredible! A modern-day Cessna has a stall-speed of about 50mph.

For more posts on the Barcelona Airshow, click on the Label "Festa al Cel" below.