Russian freighter lands at Auckland airport carrying satellite sent to Rocket Lab
An Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane lands at Auckland International Airport on Thursday.
A huge Soviet-era freighter landed in Auckland on Thursday night carrying a satellite to be launched into orbit by New Zealand space company Rocket Lab.
The Ilyushin Il-76, owned by Russian supplier Volga-Dnepr Airlines, landed at Auckland International Airport just before 8 p.m.
Auckland Airport said in a social media post that it was delighted to welcome the “unusual visitor”, with his “glass chin” housing the navigator.
The four-engine aircraft, designed in the late 1960s, has a wingspan of 50 meters, can carry up to 50 tons of cargo and has a maximum volume of 230 cubic meters.
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air traffic website Flightradar24 says, while the best-known six-engine Antonov gets a lot of attention, the Ilyushin IL-76 was an “unsung hero of logistics”.
It is still used by a number of operators for civilian cargo missions and is popular with air forces, he says.
A Rocket Lab spokeswoman said the plane was carrying a “synthetic aperture radar satellite” for Japanese Earth observation company Synspective, for one of Rocket Lab’s upcoming missions.
The satellite is capable of providing images capable of detecting millimeter-level changes in the Earth’s surface from space, regardless of weather conditions and at any time of day or night.
Rocket Lab previously launched a satellite for Synspective in December 2020, she said.
The plane arrived from Tokyo via Cairns and is due to leave Auckland at 8 p.m. Friday.
His arrival comes at a time of heightened tension on the Ukrainian border, where Russia has amassed around 100,000 troops, stoking fears of an invasion.
Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that while there was Russian activity in Ukraine that New Zealand considered a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, there were measures that the government could take, for example, regarding aid, development programs and the possibility of travel. in New Zealand.
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said that if the Ilyushin IL-76 had been a state aircraft, it would have required state government approval to land in New Zealand.
A cargo plane operated by a civilian company in New Zealand would be “absolutely normal”, he said.
An Airways spokeswoman said it was up to an aircraft operator to ensure they complied with all New Zealand and international regulations and laws.
Forwarder Things said chartering such a plane could cost well over $1 million.