The sole airworthy Antonov An-70 tactical transport was destroyed in a take-off accident at Omsk, Russia, on 27 January.

There were no fatalities among the 33 people on board (two five-man crews as well as 23 engineers, support and certification specialists), but four were injured.

The accident followed the failure of two of the aircraft's four Progress D-27 propfans during take-off. Initially the outboard port engine lost power followed by the inboard starboard powerplant. The region had been experiencing ground temperatures of down to -60íC (-76íF).

The crew initiated a return to field procedure, during which the An-70 lost height and struck the ground just beyond the airport perimeter.

With the undercarriage retracted, the fuselage broke in two and the outboard port engine detached from its mounting. Despite the extent of the damage, and the 38t of fuel on-board, no fire broke out.

The airlifter was in the final stages of its three-year certification programme and was transiting from its Kiev, Ukraine, base to the far eastern Russian republic of Sakha/Yakutia for cold weather certification trials.

The first prototype, the only other An-70 to have flown, was destroyed - with the death of its seven crew - on its fourth test flight in February 1995 following a collision with the Antonov An-72 chase aircraft.

An-70 certification was expected later this year, and it is unclear how the latest accident will affect the programme. Orders have been placed for the aircraft, which was designed as a replacement for the Soviet-era Antonov An-12, has orders from the Russian and Ukrainian air forces, which require 165 transports with 350 options and 65 respectively. Another 150 An-70s could be ordered by Russia's border guards and the ministry of emergencies.

Source: Flight International