Antonov An-225 'Mriya'
Antonov An-225 'Mriya'
The Antonov An-225 'Mriya' (Dream - NATO-codename 'Cossack') is the world's biggest aircraft in operational service. It has the capability to transport cargo that no other aircraft can carry, up to loads of 250 tons. Only one is flying.
The An-225 was developed to carry the Russian space shuttle Buran on its back, but the only example of the type flying now is in service for the transportation of heavy and outsize cargo.
The Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov is a specialist in building cargo aircraft. For the An-225 Antonov used the already very big An-124 'Ruslan' as the starting point for an even much bigger aircraft. The designers stretched the fuselage, increased the wingspan, added two extra engines under the wing (to a total of six), increased the number of wheels of the undercarriage to 32 (including fourteen main wheel bogies) and introduced a tail-section with two vertical tail-planes. Like the An-124 the Mriya has a hinged nosedoor and it can 'kneel' to ease front loading of the aircraft. Unlike the An-124 it has no rear ramp door. The An-225 is larger than the Airbus A380 and with its 600 metric tons maximum take-off weight also heavier.
The Antonov An-225 first flew on 21 December 1988 and entered service in 1989. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the Buran space shuttle programme was cancelled, however, and in Spring 1994 the world's only An-225 was stored in Kiev. Late in the 1990s the Antonov Design Bureau saw unique commercial applications for the aircraft and started to make the airplane airworthy again with new engines and other modifications.
On 7 May 2001 the renewed aircraft took off for its 'second maiden flight' and in early January 2002 the giant started commercial operations with a flight from Stuttgart to Thumrait in Oman. On board were 216,000 prepared meals for US military personnel in the Persian Gulf area. Other loads the An-225 has carried since then are locomotives, gas generators, wind-turbine blades, relief goods and other military equipment. Operator is Antonov Airlines, a subsidiary of the Antonov Design Bureau.
Antonov has partly built a second An-225 for the Buran-programme. It was stored after the cancellation of the Russian space shuttle, but in 2006, work started to complete it. It should have been finished in 2008 but the project suffered delays and lack of funds. In 2009 construction of the aircraft was abandoned again before it was completed. There are some differences between the first and the second aircraft. The second An-225 has a rear cargo door and a redesigned tail section with only a single tail. Antonov kept it in storage hoping that market conditions and funds would once allow to complete it. In August 2016 Antonov signed an agreement with AICC in China to finish the work on the second An-225 again and start series production of the aircraft type under licence in China.
Antonov An-225 Specifications
Wingspan: 88.4 m (290 ft 2 in). Length: 84 m (275 ft 6 in). Height: 18.1 m (59 ft 3 in).
Empty weight: 285,000 kg (628,317 lb). Max. takeoff weight: 600,000 kg (1,322,773 lb).
Payload: 250,000 kg (550,000 lb). Range: 4,000 km (2,160 nm). Cruise speed: 850 km/h (460 kts).
Engines: six ZMKB Progress D-18 turbofans (229 kN - 51,600 lb).