Big plane – small City, help is on the way to Pangnirtung

                 A Russian Antonov An-124 heavy lift aircraft lands in Iqaluit Monday

Kent Driscoll
APTN National News
Iqaluit plane spotters were in their glory Monday as one of the world’s largest aircrafts came to town.

The Russian Antonov An-124 arrived to deliver a helicopter that will help bring power back to the nearby community of Pangnirtung.

On April 2, Pangnirtung, located 45 minutes northeast of Iqaluit, lost most of its power plant to fire.

Back-up power was restored days later but residents were limited to the amount of power they could use including stove top cooking rather than ovens and people in the community of 1,500 are only permitted to do laundry in shifts to conserve energy.

Schools, the health centre and government offices only just opened its doors, with limited services, this week.

The Ruslan’s massive cargo space and lift were able to carry both the Erickson S-64 Skycrane helicopter and a new generator for Pangnirtung.

The helicopter will be reassembled in Iqaluit and will transport the new generating equipment for Pang.

The giant Antonov could not deliver its cargo directly to the community because the runway is too short.

It is expected to take the helicopter four trips over two days to complete the drop-off.

After that, power workers will install and test the new equipment, so Pangnirtung will be on temporary generators for a while longer.

In the “kneeling” configuration, the cockpit flips up and the fuselage dips to the tarmac, allowing the massive jetliner to deploy the S-64 Skycrane helicopter.

Erickson s-64 Skycrane:

The helicopter was originally manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft as the S-64A Skycrane, and sold to the Army as the CH-54A Tarhe. The CH-54 performed with an outstanding service record in Vietnam, supporting the Army’s First Cavalry Division, Airmobile by retrieving over 380 damaged aircraft, saving an estimated $210 million. The S-64 was the first helicopter built as a flying crane, with an aft-facing pilot station that gives the pilot an unobstructed view of the load being carried and full positive control of the aircraft during precision operations. (Source:

One of only 26 Antonov An-124 Ruslans lands in Iqaluit on April 13.

Antonov An-124 Ruslan:


The AN-124-100 commercial aircraft has been developed on the basis of the AN-124 “Ruslan” heavy military transport aircraft. It is the biggest serial heavy lifter in the world and has a double-deck fuselage layout. The AN-124 has been used to deliver 90 ton hydraulic turbines, the Liebherr large dimension mobile crane, the USA Euclid mine truck, the fuselage of the Tu-204 passenger aircraft, a 109 ton locomotive, General Electric GE90 aircraft engines, various combat vehicles, Lynx anti-submarine helicopters, a spaceship in its container and other unique cargoes. (Source:


Video Journalist / Iqaluit

Kent has been APTN’s Nunavut correspondent since 2007. In that time he has closely covered Inuit issues, including devolution and the controversial Nutrition North food subsidy. He has also worked for CKIQ-FM in Iqaluit and as a reporter for Nunavut News North.