The An-32 is essentially a re-engined An-26. The launch customer was the Indian Air Force, which ordered the aircraft partly due to good relations between then USSR leader Leonid Brezhnev and then India leader Indira Gandhi. The An-32 is designed to withstand adverse weather conditions better than the standard An-26. The high placement of the engine nacelles above the wing allowed for larger diameter propellers, which are driven by 5,100 hp rated Ivchenko AI-20 turboprop engines, providing almost twice the power of the An-26's AI-24 powerplants. Estimated price for a modernised An-32 version is 15 million US dollars.
The An-32 has excellent takeoff characteristics in hot and high conditions, (up to + 55 °C (131 °F; 328 K) and 4,500 m (14,800 ft) elevation suitable for use as a medium tactical military transport roles as well as commercial roles. Operating as a cargo transport over the short and medium range air routes, the An-32 is suitable for air-dropping cargo, passenger carrying, medevac, firefighting, skydiving or paratrooping roles.
An-32LL (Letayushchaya Laboratoriya flying laboratory): The very first prototype of An-32 (actually Antonov An-26 number 10-06) was equipped with a large eight-bladed propeller SV-36P of D-236 engine in place of the standard AV-68DM on the port engine. However, without much success - the noise significantly increased, up to 115-120 dB, the characteristics were not much improved.
An-32P Firekiller : Aerial firefighting version. Special category type certificate granted on 10 March 1995. A total of eight tons of liquid can be discharged from the two external tanks simultaneously or one after the other. Drops are conducted at 40–50 m above ground level and 240 to 260 km/h. Can be used as a cargo aircraft when not fighting fires.
An-32V-200 : A tactical transport/cargo aircraft outgrowth from the An-32B-100, with more modern avionics allowing two crew operation. Intended for export; despite reasonable interest few have been sold.
An-32 RE : Modernised version of the An-32B. MTOW increased to 28.5 tons, payload increased to 7.5 tons. New avionics.
Indian Air Force: Bought 125 aircraft, 105 are still in service. Entire fleet is undergoing modernization; 35 upgraded An-32s have been delivered by Ukrspetsexport. The upgrades include modern avionics equipment, new oxygen systems and improved crew seats. The remaining aircraft are being upgraded in India.
In July 2016, a total of 25 Antonov An-32 aircraft remain in airline service. The largest operator is Aero Transporte S.A (ATSA) of Peru with four aircraft. Some 16 other airlines operate smaller numbers of the type.
On 8 January 1996, an An-32 freighter crashed into a crowded marketplace in Kinshasa, Zaire, resulting in the deaths of approximately 237 people on the ground. The crew attempted to abort the takeoff at Kinshasa-N'Dolo Airport after the aircraft failed to gain height. All six crew members survived. Overloading was cited as a possible cause.
On 28 March 1998, a Peruvian Air Force An-32 carrying the dual civil/military registration OB-1389/FAP-388 and inbound from Tumbes evacuating 50 people stranded by El Niño-driven floods had an engine failure while approaching Piura. As the aircraft was overloaded, the pilot could not maintain height and the AN-32 struck three houses of a nearby shantytown and crashed into a canal. While the crew of five survived, 21 passengers died plus one person on the ground.
On 10 June 2009, an Indian Air Force, An-32 transport aircraft carrying 13 people crashed shortly after it took off from Mechukha in Arunachal Pradesh, a state bordering China. All 13 people on board were reported to have been killed. Soon after the crash, India agreed a $US400 million deal with Ukraine for an An-32 fleet upgrade. This upgrade as reported will extend the life of these transport aircraft by nearly 15 years.
On 12 December 2014, a Sri Lankan Air Force, An-32 transport aircraft carrying five people crashed on approach to land at the Rathmalana Airport after taking off from Katunayaka Bandaranayake International Airport. The pilot, co-pilot and two of the aircrew were killed in the crash and the fifth crew member suffered critical injuries and died after six days from the accident due to his injuries.
On 22 July 2016, an Indian Air Force An-32 travelling from Chennai to Port Blair went missing above the Bay of Bengal with 29 people on board. The plane left the Tambaram air base near Chennai at 8.30 am. It went missing from radar at 9.12 am, 280 km east of Chennai. Eight were personnel from Visakhapatnam-based Naval Science and Technological Laboratory's Naval Armament Depot
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