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It is cold, in the early hours of 28th February 2009. Except for the whistling of the icy wind, the airport of Parchim is still quiet. Our 8-axles Faymonville vessel bed, together with a 5-axles Volvo towing vehicle is in waiting position next to the runway. Two days ago the truck loaded a MOVIA underground train for Delhi at Bombardier in Görlitz, and arrived in Parchim at 2 o’clock in the morning. On the apron of the airport is the gigantic air freighter ANTONOV 124-100M-150 next to it two 80t mobile cranes. The underground train (lxwxh 22,60 x 3,20 x 4,01m; 44,8t) appears to be small against the large truck (transport measurements 46,00 x 4,30 x 4,40m; 118t). The truck, on the other hand, seems small compared to the Antonov (lxwxh 69,10 x 73,30 x 20,78m; max. take off weight 405t).

For our customer, Panalpina, we developed a concept, to transport the underground trains in a vessel bed on especially designed support frames. Special care was taken of the measurements and load balancing for the street transport. The route was measured and tested several times, before the official road traffic licensing department authorised the transport. Our Faymonville vessel bed with shuttle axles mastered the route without any problems and the train hovered into Parchim without a scratch. In addition it had to be avoided, that the train got in contact with the salt of the wintry streets, in order to avoid corrosion. Therefore, our team, the driver Tobias Schulze and his attendant, Georg Krause, risked a glimpse more to keep an overview. Visibly proud they accepted the compliments for this smooth transport.

Around 9 in the morning, the staff of the apron and the Ukrainian loading specialists of the Antonov start the comprehensive preparation to load the plane. Suddenly a shrill and very loud whistle is heard. The motors of the hydraulic pumps start to open the nose of the Antonov. The airplane pushes the front wheels forward, thus lowering itself to adjust the airplane ramp to the height of the apron. Forklift trucks arrive with 16 modules of the apron ramp in front of the opened nose. They are supposed to hold the tracks, in order to tow the train into the loading space of the Antonov (lxwxh 36,50mx6,40mx4,40m) The Antonov is equipped with on-board cable winches. In the meantime more and more curious onlookers observe the event. And now the time had come.



Around noon the heavy transport truck rolls to the ramp and the loading of the train, with the help of the cranes, onto the tracks starts. At first, the precise centre of gravity has to be determined again, because the train has to be kept in balance when the cranes lift it up. After the straps are fastened, the MOVIA train hovers in the air and is carefully set into the tracks. Several men are needed. Slowly the train is pulled into the huge stomach of the AN – 124 and lashed down.

After the last technical check and fuelling (tank capacity up to 250.000 litres) the ANTONOV 124-100M-150 takes off around 4 o’clock in the afternoon for its 10 hours, around 6360 km long flight to Delhi, India. Only one stop: In Burgas, Romania, for re-fuelling.


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