Maximus Air airline (United Arab Emirates), which specializes in cargo transportation, could be the first customer for the civilian version of the An-178 transport aircraft. The Antonov state aircraft manufacturing company told that the airline has confirmed its interest in acquiring the transport aircraft. The two sides will take the appropriate action in this regard in March-April this year.

In addition, the companies agreed to join forces in promoting Antonov airplanes on the UAE market, in the Middle East, and in North Africa.

The An-178 aircraft was developed based on the AN-158 passenger aircraft. However, the cargo transport version of the aircraft is differentiated by the shape of its fuselage and the addition of a ramp for loading and unloading bulky cargo.

The aircraft is designed to replace the An-12 aircraft, and it is capable of carrying up to 18 tons of cargo. According to Antonov’s Chief Designer Dmytro Kiva, one of the advantages of the AN-178 aircraft is its ability to carry two shipping containers in a pressurized cabin.

Antonov plans to certify the new cargo aircraft as both civilian and military transport aircraft. The company completed the assembly of the AN-178’s fuselage in summer 2014. The first aircraft of the new model was scheduled to begin test flights at the beginning of 2015.

Maximus Air specializes in moving outsized air cargo and wet leasing aircraft in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia. It has a fleet of one Antonov An-124-100, five Airbus A300-600RP2F, and two Ilyushin IL-76TDs aircraft.