More than 300 tonnes of gold mining equipment has touched down in Kenya onboard three Antonov AN-124-100 freighter flights operated by Volga-Dnepr Airlines.
The flights from Ostrava in the Czech Republic to Nairobi carried large ‘semi-rings’ used for mining gold, each one weighing over 50 tonnes. The large pieces of cargo had to be precisely loaded onto the Volga-Dnepr aircraft as the clearance on either side of the cross-section of the AN-124’s cargo hold was a mere 77mm.
Commenting on the loading process, Alexey Soshnikov, Head of Loading/Unloading Equipment Design & Support Section for the Russian airline, said: “A special frame was designed and manufactured to distribute the load over the AN-124-100 cargo floor for these flights. The tooling had to be interfaced with the cargo with the highest level of precision and required extensive communication with the customer regarding certain modifications to the semi-ring design. Due to the height of the gold mining equipment, even its slightest displacement off the cargo cabin symmetry axis could have made the loading impossible. To avoid this, Volga-Dnepr used guide rails with the lowest profile possible to roll the cargo inside the aircraft and developed a thorough procedure for accurate positioning of the semi-rings on the rails. During loading, the extension ramp, AN-124-100 floor and front cargo door ramp had to be precisely aligned. The nature of our outsize and heavyweight air cargo business means there are no standard loading procedures for these types of cargo so every shipment is deemed to be unique and relies on the expertise of our planning and loading teams.”
Over the last 20 years, Volga-Dnepr Airlines has accumulated huge experience of working with heavy and outsized cargoes. Similar challenges have been solved for the safe and timely transportation of turbines for the Kambarata-2 Hydro Power Plant in Kyrgyzstan in 2008 and transformers destined for Sangtuda HPP in Tajikistan in 2011.
The transported equipment will be used by the gold mining company located in Tanzania.