How do tugs push back aircraft with 2 nose gears such as the Antonov 225? Front of an Antonov 225 showing double nose gear


2 Answers 2


Quite simple ― use a (special) towbar! Aircraft with such unique front wheels (like the Antonov An-225 Mriya and Lockheed C-5 Galaxy) carry their own towbar around, which is then attached to the tugs for movement.

For example, here is the Galaxy's towbar:

C-5 towbar

From left to right: 68th Airlift Squadon loadmasters, Senior Airman Katy Mackey, Master Sgt. Kevin Foerster, Senior Master Sgt. Dustin Burleson, Airman 1st Class Brandon Stone, and Master Sgt. Alfonso Cervantes unload an aircraft tow bar off C-5A Galaxy upon arrival to Cairns, Australia on May 5, 2012. The tow bar was used airport officials to move the Air Force's largest transport aircraft in place to load the U.S. Coast Guard's HH-65C Dolphin helicopter. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Maj. Tim Wade)

And here's that of Mriya:

An-225 towbar

AN-225 towbar being removed from aircraft; screen grab from this youtube video.

And here's a Galaxy with a towbar:

Galaxy towbar

Troops from the 439th Maintenance Squadron prepare to tow a C-5 Galaxy into Westover's Regional Isochronal dock, May 22, 2013, to test the newly-constructed mobile tail enclosure. Crews broke ground April 1, 2012, for the $5 million MTE, is a moveable structure on rails that will protect maintenance troops from harsh New England weather. The MTE is the largest structure of its kind in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/SrA Kelly Galloway)

This video shows Mriya's towbar in use.

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    $\begingroup$ What happens once the a/c has been towed and is ready for taxi before takeoff? I guess they open the cargo bay again to take the towbar onboard, is this correct? Thanks. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2017 at 3:03
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    $\begingroup$ With all the spare and extra parts you think that inside the antonov there is another one hidden... $\endgroup$
    – PlasmaHH
    Nov 23, 2017 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ @PlasmaHH You're suggesting that the plane's name "Mriya" is actually a contraction of "matryoshka"? $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2017 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby It's not exactly 'Y' shaped. More like three parallel rods with two swiveling joints, You can see more clearly in this image $\endgroup$
    – aeroalias
    Nov 23, 2017 at 12:02
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    $\begingroup$ @aeroalias Aha! You should definitely add that to your answer. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2017 at 13:43

It is a half hour operation at the best. That's why these aircraft are usually parked away from other aircraft as they take longer to get moving.

The aircraft will usually carry its own towbar. Unlike scheduled flights where it makes sense to have your towbars positioned at the airports you operate to, for the type of flying the AN-225 does (unscheduled) it is not practical as these things cost a fair bit of money.

On the Antonov, a tow-bar is usually carried in the fwd-most position of the cargo hold. It is offloaded and the push commenced. Once the aircraft is positioned on the taxiway to the point where it can commence movement under its own engine power, the towbar is disconnected and the nose-cargo door is opened. The aircraft then 'kneels' on its nose-gear and the ramp lowered. The towbar is then wheeled on board and lashed down. The ramp is raised, the nose-gear resume the normal position and the cargo door closed.

A lot of airlines which operate an uncommon a/c type or operate to remote areas will usually have a towbar on board. But since it is such a hassle to pushback and then reload the towbar they will usually request a 'power-in/power-out' stand which works better for all involved. Air Koryo (North Korea) usually carries a towbar in the hold of their IL-62. I've also handled the Luftwaffe A310 which had a towbar in the aft hold. This was a particular pain as the tow-bar had to be lashed by the load-master.. so it was pushed back onto the taxiway, the pax steps and belt-loader positioned, towbar loaded and lashed by the Luftwaffe Loadmaster who then boarded the aircraft after which the steps and belt loaded removed. I suspect this was more to ensure that nobody stole the tow-bar!

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    $\begingroup$ I'm trying to imagine what circumstance would allow an unauthorized person to scoop up a towbar and carry it off a taxiway unchallenged... $\endgroup$
    – J...
    Nov 23, 2017 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ @J... The most likely scenario is the tow-truck operator forgetting that this towbar is special and taking it back to wherever the airport keeps its towbars, like they do with all the others. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2017 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby I suppose that's a loose interpertation of "to steal" ;) I guess I was imagining ninjas or bandits or something. $\endgroup$
    – J...
    Nov 23, 2017 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ @J... Even ninjas have to wear high-vis on the apron, which makes things very difficult for them. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2017 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby Well... you see my point, then! That said, you could figure high-vis as apron camouflage... of a sort. $\endgroup$
    – J...
    Nov 23, 2017 at 13:55

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