ANTONOV AN-225 MRIYA
- Payload 250000 KG / 551156 lbs
The Antonov AN-225 Mriya was the largest cargo aircraft in the world and was the only aircraft that featured six turbofan engines. The aircraft was a modern engineering marvel, able to transport up to 250 tonnes of cargo, including single pieces weighing up to 200 tonnes, over short and medium-haul routes.
About this aircraft
Only one AN-225 Mriya (‘Dream’ in Ukrainian) was ever built to completion. It was designed and built throughout the 1980s and took its maiden flight on 21st December 1988.
There were 20 steerable wheels in the 32-wheel landing gear. The nose gear housed 4 steerable wheels and the other 16 were in the rear of the 18-wheel main gear.
The AN-225 Mriya was originally tasked with transporting the space shuttle for the Soviet space program (the Buran spaceplane) and it made its international debut in absolute style by landing at the 1989 Paris Air Show with the shuttle on its back.
The AN-225 Mriya was designed to carry twice as much as a Boeing 747 freighter. With an overall size that stretched as far as a football field from nose to tail and wingtip to wingtip, and a maximum take-off weight of up to 1.32 million pounds (about 598 tonnes), it dwarfed the 747 in size and lifting capability.
The size and weight of the Antonov AN-225 Mriya freighter meant that it would need a serious amount of power to get it off the ground, so the Ukrainian engineers at Antonov fitted it with six – yes, six – engines each capable of pumping out a staggering 51,590 pounds of thrust.
The cargo hold on the AN-225 Mriya boasted an impressive total length of 142.1ft, a width of almost 21ft, and an interior height of about 14ft – that made the cargo hold on this aircraft spacious enough to carry 50 cars!
The interior of the cargo hold comprised a main cargo deck, featuring a built-in crane capable of moving a 33-tonne load, a side-cargo area for bulky items and tools for servicing the aircraft and an engineering bay large enough for four crew members. The cockpit was at the top of the plane and was only accessible via a retractable ladder.
The most noticeable, and probably most famous, technological feature of the AN-225 Mriya was its engines. Six ZMKB Progress Lotarev D-18T turbofan jet engines formed the powerplant of this colossus, giving the AN-225 Mriya the ability to reach a maximum speed of 528mph at an altitude of 36,000ft. All this power meant that, even with a full tank of fuel, the AN-225 could fly distances of up to 9,569 miles – enough to travel from London to Australia.
Only one AN-225 was ever built to completion. It was designed and built throughout the 1980s and took its maiden flight on 21st December 1988. A second AN-225 began production in the late 1980s but, in 2009 when the aircraft had still not yet been completed, production was abandoned.
The AN-225 was destroyed in February 2022. Ukrainian authorities have vowed to rebuild the plane, and Antonov CEO Sergii Bychkov has kickstarted a campaign to revive it, but no concrete plans to reproduce the aircraft exist.
Antonov State Company, formerly the Antonov Design Bureau, was founded in 1946 at the Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association as a top-secret organization and was headed by a man named Oleg Antonov. The company specialised in the production of very large aircraft and aircraft that were able to use unprepared runways.
In July of 2017, Ukraine’s state-owned arms manufacturer, Ukroboronprom, announced the creation of the Ukrainian Aircraft Company, combining all aircraft manufacturing enterprises, including the assets of Antonov, into a single cluster.
It is understood the Antonov AN-225 Mirya will cost around $3 billion (USD) to rebuild.
This aircraft is no longer available to charter.