The Antonov An-72 (NATO reporting name Coaler) is a Soviet transport aircraft, developed by Antonov. It was designed as a STOL transport and intended as a replacement for the Antonov An-26, but variants have found success as commercial freighters.
The An-72 and An-74 get their nickname, Cheburashka, from the large engine intake ducts, which resemble the oversized ears of the popular Soviet animated character of the same name.
The An-72 has STOL capabilities: its takeoff roll is 620 metres and its landing run is 420 metres. This aircraft was designed to be used on unprepared surfaces: its robust undercarriage and high-flotation tyres allow operations on sand, grass or other unpaved surfaces.
In January 1997 and 1998, the Paris-Dakar rally was assisted by two An-72 aircraft. In 1999, a total of four aircraft of this type joined the rally.
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