It is an event for the entire community of aeronautical enthusiasts. Every time the Antonov An-225 landed at a new airport, they rushed to the edge of the runways for the chance to capture footage of the world’s largest six-engine cargo plane. Unfortunately, the so-called “Mriya” suffered heavy damage during a Russian bombardment in its Ukrainian warehouse, as a symbol, a few days after the start of the war at the end of February 2022.
Antonov was losing its biggest plane and the country’s industry was losing a symbol. Now is the time to rebuild it, the company said. To get started, it will rely on an unfinished model, whose plans had begun in 1994 before being abandoned and secretly left aside. The Ukrainian manufacturer says it will be able to salvage parts from the 1988 Mriya. “Design work has begun”, even said Antonov, in a statement from kyiv. They will need no less than 500 million euros to transport it, they already estimated.
The completion date of the work is unknown. The context is particularly unstable, it must be remembered. So in the meantime, let’s recap some of the device’s craziest features. Already, its wingspan: 88 meters. Its 84 meter fuselage is the only one so wide, high and deep, and it is for this reason that its transport missions have always led it to carry out the craziest projects in the industry over the past 30 years. Faced with its destruction, it was in Europe, at Airbus, that an opportunity arose. Its former Belugas, the A300-600STs specially designed for transporting parts to the manufacturer’s production line at its European sites, will be converted into cargo planes for the rest of the industry.
The second Antonov An-225 is 60-70% complete
Its oversized payloads made it possible to move equipment that was previously impossible to move through the air so quickly. Railway projects, for example, have gone through the Antonov An-225, as have humanitarian aid or military support. Of Soviet design, the plane had nevertheless been used by the United States in 2003 for the support of forces in the coalition in the Middle East, or for the transport of equipment for Iraq. At Milan-Malpensa airport in 2016, it even loaded a 52-tonne turbine. During its very first flight, the Antonov An-225 already set several records in the aeronautical sector, which it still holds today.
But its most popular mission to date was a demonstration flight, just weeks after its public presentation. The An-225 had made a flight carrying the Buran space shuttle, the Soviet space program in response to the American space program. It is also through the field of space that Antonov had planned soon after to embark on the construction of a second An-225 – the one that will be used today to revive the myth. According to several sources, in 2011 the aircraft was already 60/70% complete. Its reactors, already designed, were used on other cargo planes pending a potential introduction of the new An-225.