First flown in 1959, the An-24 was produced in some 1,000 units of various versions, in 2019 there are 109 still in service worldwide, mostly in the CIS and Africa.
It was designed to replace the veteran piston Ilyushin Il-14 transport on short to medium haul trips, optimised for operating from rough strips and unprepared airports in remote locations.
The high-wing layout protects engines and blades from debris, the power-to-weight ratio is higher than that of many comparable aircraft and the machine is rugged, requiring minimal ground support equipment.
Due to its rugged airframe and good performance, the An-24 was adapted to perform many secondary missions such as ice reconnaissance and engine/propeller test-bed, as well as further development to produce the An-26 tactical transport, An-30 photo-mapping/survey aircraft and An-32 tactical transport with more powerful engines.
The main production line was at the Kiev-Svyatoshino aircraft production plant which built 985, with 180 built at Ulan Ude and a further 197 An-24T tactical transport/freighters at Irkutsk.
Production in the USSR was shut down by 1978.
Production continues at China’s Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation which makes licensed reverse-engineered and redesigned aircraft as the Xian Y-7, and its derivatives.