April 30, 2024

Explore the captivating story of CU-T1294, an Antonov AN-24RV aircraft hijacked in 2003, as it embarks on a new journey as PlaneTags, transforming its turbulent past into a unique piece of aviation history. Get your Antonov AN-24RV PlaneTags when they become available May 2, 2024. 

What is the Antonov AN-24RV?

The Antonov An-24RV is a twin-turboprop transport aircraft known for its ruggedness and versatility. Developed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Soviet Union during the 1950s, it's a member of the An-24 family, designed primarily for short to medium-haul flights. The "RV" designation indicates it's a variant with improved avionics and systems.


Photo by Richard E Flagg UK Airfields , used with permission


Powered by two Ivchenko AI-24A turboprop engines, the An-24RV boasts a cruising speed of approximately 450 km/h (280 mph) and a range of up to 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles). It typically accommodates around 50 passengers in a single-class configuration, although it can be adapted for various roles, including cargo transport and special missions.

This aircraft has been widely utilized by airlines and operators across the globe, particularly in regions with limited infrastructure, thanks to its ability to operate from unimproved airstrips. Despite its age, many An-24RVs remain in service today, though most have been retired or replaced by newer, more efficient aircraft.


Development of the Antonov AN-24RV

The Antonov An-24RV emerged from a design lineage deeply rooted in the Soviet Union's vision for regional air travel during the 1950s. Developed by the renowned Antonov Design Bureau (now Antonov Company), the An-24RV represented a significant advancement in Soviet aviation technology, aimed at meeting the growing demand for reliable and efficient transport aircraft.


Photo by Richard E Flagg UK Airfields , used with permission


The development process of the An-24RV began with the original An-24, which first took flight in 1959. Designed to operate in rugged conditions and short airstrips typical of the Soviet Union's vast territory, the An-24 quickly gained recognition for its robustness and versatility. Building upon this success, the An-24RV variant was introduced, incorporating enhancements in avionics and systems to further improve performance and reliability. With its twin-turboprop configuration and spacious cabin, the An-24RV became a staple in regional air travel, serving both civilian and military operators across the globe. Its development marked a significant milestone in Soviet aviation history, showcasing the nation's prowess in designing and manufacturing aircraft tailored to meet the unique challenges of its landscape and infrastructure.

Take a closer look at the Cubana Antonov AN-24RV. 


Cubana’s Fleet



Cubana de Aviación, Cuba's national airline, was founded in 1929 and has flown a diverse array of aircraft throughout its nearly 100 years, including the Antonov An-24RV. Early in its existence, the airline's fleet featured iconic models such as the Curtiss Robin, Sikorsky S-38, Ford Trimotor, and Lockheed Electra (L-10). By 1940, Cubana's fleet expanded to include 12 aircraft, incorporating stalwarts like the Douglas DC-3s and Lockheed Electras. In a significant milestone, Cubana introduced the Lockheed L-049 Constellations on trans-Atlantic routes in 1953, followed by the Vickers Viscount turbo propeller airliners on the Havana-Miami route in 1956.



Following the communist revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, Cubana's fleet underwent a transformation, integrating Soviet-made Antonov An-24s and Ilyushin Il-18s. By the 1980s, the airline had phased out all Western aircraft, relying exclusively on Soviet engineering. The dissolution of the Soviet Union heralded a new era for Cubana, enabling the acquisition of modern Western-made aircraft for the first time since the 1950s. As Cubana de Aviación nears its 95th anniversary on October 8, 2024, much of its fleet lies dormant, with only a few aircraft conducting domestic flights within Cuba. Its fleet of about 13 aircraft are grounded due to challenges sourcing parts from Russia and ongoing maintenance issues. 


Antonov AN-24RV At A Glance



Antonov AN-24RV Characteristics

  • Manufacturer: Antonov Design Bureau
  • Type: An-24rv
  • Tail #: Cu-T1294
  • Crew: 6 (2 Pilots, 1 Engineer, 3 Flight Attendants)
  • Passengers: 48 (Economy)
  • Wing Span: 95 Ft 10 In
  • Length: 77 Ft 3 In
  • Height: 27 Ft 4 In

Antonov AN-24RV Performance

  • Range: 1,295 Nm
  • Cruise Speed: 243 Kts
  • Max Takeoff: 46,297 Lb
  • Empty Operating Weight: 29,321 Lb
  • Ceiling: 27,600 Ft
  • Rate Of Climb: 375 Ft / Minute
  • Engine: 2x Ivchenko Ai-24a Turboprops

CU-T1294: The History of an AN-24RV


Photo by Pertti Sipilä, used with permission


CU-T1294, during its time in the Cubana de Aviación fleet, was at the center of a hijacking incident that unfolded during a routine flight from Cuba's Isle of Youth to Havana. On March 31, 2003, the flight was interrupted when a hijacker claiming to be armed with grenades commandeered the aircraft, threatening the lives of passengers and crew members. The hijacker demanded the plane be refueled in Havana so it could reach Key West. While refueling, several passengers, including the wife and child of the hijacker, escaped to safety. 



With demands to be flown to the United States, the aircraft's trajectory was abruptly altered, leading to a tense standoff as it entered U.S. airspace. The drama intensified as CU-T1294 touched down at Key West International Airport under the watchful eye of military escort, including two F-16 fighter jets from the 482nd Fighter Wing at the Homestead Air Reserve Base. Passengers and crew, including women and children, were evacuated under heightened security measures, with SWAT teams and FBI agents swiftly mobilizing to defuse the situation. 

After the hijacking, CU-T1294 remained in limbo at Key West International Airport. It was used to train first responders, and at one time was being considered for use as an artificial reef . Airplane Repo’s Mike Kennedy took a tour of this very aircraft over a decade ago. Check it out. 


MotoArt Acquires An An-24RV


As a passionate aviation lover himself, MotoArt owner Dave Hall loves a plane with a story. "What makes this aircraft exceptionally cool," says Hall, "Is more than just its turbulent hijacking history in Cuba. It's also about the fascinating story of Cuba's national airline, the Soviet-made aircraft, and the location for the the tear down that we endured to make this PlaneTag possible."








The location the crew endured was in the heart of Key West, Florida. Tasked with dismantling the plane just after New Year's in 2024, they found themselves caught in a predicament. With no available hotels in sight due to the holiday, they embraced the spirit of adventure, opting for an RV rental in a picturesque waterfront spot, turning their work trip into a week-long camping adventure.






Antonov An-24RV PlaneTags 

Cubana de Aviación Antonov An-24RV PlaneTags are a limited edition available at planetags.com beginning on Thursday, May 2, 2024. Don’t miss this opportunity to own a piece of fascinating history. Add one to your collection before they disappear.