Fans of the Antonov An-124 may be in for a special treat this weekend. There’s a very good chance the massive cargo aircraft will be flying a special domestic delivery flight across the United States carrying much needed cargo to South Carolina.
— Benjamin Granucci (@BLGranucci) January 13, 2018
Amidst the chaos caused in last weeks bomb cyclone blizzard on the US east coast the story of Charleston, South Carolina flew mostly under the radar. The airport closed for several days following the storm due to a lack of available de-icing equipment available. It is not just that the airport didn’t have enough. It simply does not have any de-icing gear on site at all.
Believe it, folks! The low temps in Orlando this morning produced a rare sight – the de-icing truck had to be dusted off and put to work at MCO. pic.twitter.com/bQgAMwuYZG
— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) January 4, 2018
Typically that lack of hardware isn’t a problem. On the rare occasion it gets too cold overnight the airport would just wait for the sun to come out and naturally defrost aircraft. That doesn’t work so well with an ice storm and significantly colder than normal weather.
For commercial airlines the impact is annoying as they cancel service. For Boeing, with a 787 final assembly line at the airport, the business interruption is far worse. Without its dreamlifter fleet flying between Charleston and manufacturing facilities around the globe the supply chain suffers. And with a tightly timed production plan a delay of a day or two can throw the whole line off.
And so the company decided to bring a de-icing truck to Charleston this weekend in advance of another cold snap predicted for the coming days. It is getting the gear there as only an aircraft manufacturer would: flying it in on a cargo plane.
I’m honestly shocked that that’s the quickest solution. That charter will cost 1.5x what a new truck would. Let alone a used one.
— Andrew P. (@apoure25) January 13, 2018
There’s only one cargo craft that can readily handle the load, the Antonio An-124 and that’s operated by Volga-Dnepr. As the company is not licensed for regular operations in the United States it is forced to apply for exceptions from the DoT when it wants to run such services. Late on Friday that application was filed.
The cargo to be transported by Volga-Dnepr consists of one De-Icing Truck 35,000 pounds with dimensions of (L-38’2 x W-8’4” x H-12’8”) and eight (8) totes of glycol.
Volga-Dnepr will operate the flight on behalf of Boeing Commercial Aircraft as part of an effort to provide urgently needed lift to leave Everett not later than xx00 PST on January 13, 2018. The de-icing truck is required in Charleston to support Boeing’s Dreamlifter operation which currently has no de-icing equipment on-site.
3. Due to the urgency of the shipment, Boeing cannot use surface/ocean transportation to ship the cargo.
4. Since the de-icing truck is of extraordinary importance for Boeing’s Dreamlifter operation it needs to be delivered as expeditiously as possible, Volga-Dnepr must perform the operation no later than the set date. Volga-Dnepr is polling all U.S. certificated air carriers on the attached service list and will inform the Department of the results of that poll.
Perhaps most amusing about the plan is that a new de-icing truck and a glycol supply is likely cheaper to acquire on the open market rather than flying one in. Those charter flights aren’t cheap, especially on the huge Antonov. Ouch.
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