I am wondering if anyone who looked at my blog about the AN-12, and who looked at the attached photo of the aircraft, noticed that the #1 engine on that aircraft was shut down. It is clear from the image that the prop is stopped and feathered.
News reports out of Russia today tell the story of a Russian AN-12 aircraft dropping 172 gold bars on the runway as it was taking off from a Siberian airport. The gold bars that fell from the aircraft weighed a total of 7,000 pounds. The total value of the gold cargo was estimated to be USD $368 million. However, there are some confusing and contradictory parts of the report. First, the aircraft was identified as having the registration number 11130, and the owner of that aircraft is SibNIA Airlines, which is based in Russia, and appears to be part of the Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute, also named SibNIA. The media reports today stated that the accident aircraft was operated by Nimbus Airlines, which is actually located in Scotland. As a matter of fact, the AN-12 has a payload of 44,000 pounds, so the total weight of the gold that was being carried was well under the allowable payload. However, a video that is also being circulated of the aircraft shows that the gold bars were just placed in a pile on the floor of the aircraft. Since gold is a highly dense metal, that might mean that the floor footprint of the gold payload was exceeded, causing structural failure of the floor. The first reports stated that a hatch had failed, but photo images indicate that the structural failure was much greater than just the hatch. The initial report also stated that the aircraft was being flown to Kupol Dome mine, which seems to be an odd destination - somewhat like flying coal to Newcastle. The initial report said that all of the gold bars that fell landed on the runway, but later reports said tat some fell as far away as 26 kilometers from the airport, which is where the aircraft turned back to the airport. The report also said that all of the gold bars were recovered.