Friday, 21 June 2024

Fish fly to north Russia

Delicate cargos of two contrasting kinds – newly spawned fish from Arctic waters and hi-tech industrial laser equipment – have been successfully transported to new destinations in northern Russia and Japan by Volga-Dnepr Airlines.

More than a million newly spawned fish began life in an usual fashion when the Russian private air charter company was called on to deliver a shipment of Muksun fish from a hatchery in St Petersburg to northern Russia.

The 1,236,000 whitefish, mostly found in Siberian Arctic waters, are being used to re-populate the freshwater Ob River basin and were transported in four 2.5 ton water containers with oxygen tanks to Salekhard – dubbed Russia’s Arctic capital – on board a Boeing 737 Freighter operated by AirBridgeCargo. It is believed to be the first time Muksun’s have flown by air.

To ensure the well-being of the fish, the aircraft’s cargo hold was maintained within a 12-14 degree Celsius temperature range and they were accompanied by fish breeding experts. The young fish weighed around one gram each but will eventually grow to up to 60 cm.

Engineers at Volga-Dnepr, developed a special loading plan for the flight and used bespoke equipment to unload the fish in their water containers in Salekhard. The fish were bred at a fish hatchery near St Petersburg as part of a programme to increase the population of the Muksun species in the Ob and Irtysh river basins in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in Russia.

Transport of high value industrial laser equipment from Orebro in Sweden to Japan on one of Volga-Dnepr’s IL-76TD-90VD freighters also required a bespoke solution and extensive planning. “We first met with representatives of Scan Global Logistics six months prior to the flight to discuss the placing and shoring of the cargo,” says Alexey Stepanov, leading engineer at Volga-Dnepr.

“The 21-ton shipment’s dimensions were 3.2 metre wide and 2.7 metre high so it was decided to transport the laser equipment in a container with several holes that would enable us to moor the cargo in the aircraft.” A ramp extension originally developed for use by Volga-Dnepr’s An-124-100 freighter to load aerospace equipment – was used to load the container. The extension enables cargoes to be loaded and unloaded within the shortest possible distance of the IL-76’s cargo door, improving speed and safety.

“This cargo was oversize and delicate and needed to be loaded and carried in a temperature environment below 30C,” adds Stepanov. “The loading process in Sweden was therefore performed early in the morning, standing time during the maintenance stop in Krasnoyarsk was reduced to a minimum, and the aircraft remained closed while the maintenance team installed equipment to unload the container in Japan.”

Clive Simpson – for Air Cargo Week

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