An-124 visits Stansted to pick up unusual cargo

One of the world’s largest aircraft stopped off in Essex yesterday to collect some rare freight 

An Antonov Airlines An-124, registered UR-82009 (c/n 19530501006), landed at London’s Stansted Airport yesterday to transport a giant sailing yacht to New Zealand. 

The 75-foot race boat (code-named RB2) – which will race in the America’s Cup from January 2021 – was helped onboard the Antonov cargo jet by the team’s new prototype INEOS Grenadier 4x4, before being secured for take-off. 

The boat was loaded onto the An-124 using a modified 4x4 vehicle. INEOS

The four-engine giant flew into the country from Trieste in Italy on Sunday before briefly stopping at RAF Brize Norton after which it made the short hop to the London facility where it parked overnight. 

The boat was loaded onto the 34-year-old jet and it departed at 6.30pm on September 28 for its flight to Auckland, via Dubai/Al Maktoum.

The An-124's maximum take-off weight is 402,000kg. INEOS

In a statement to Key.Aero, a spokesperson for the London gateway said: “Stansted’s airfield infrastructure is world-class and designed to accommodate the largest commercial aircraft in operation, and the cargo handling teams have the expertise and extensive experience in dealing with complex and valuable loads to safely transport them across the globe. We were delighted to help support the INEOS team at the start of the journey to New Zealand and wish them the best of luck for next year’s race.”

The type - which was introduced in 1986 - was produced between 1982 and 2004. Wikimedia Commons/Antti Havukainen

As UK’s entry to the America’s Cup, the boat is expected to complete the 11,000-mile journey in four days with two stops. The tournament is a sailing match race, which is due to start on March 6, 2021.