The world’s largest plane, the Antonov An-225, known as Mriya, which was nearly destroyed by Russian forces in February at the Antonov Airport in Hostomel, near Kyiv, will be rebuilt, according to the aircraft manufacturer.
What happened to the Antonov An-225?
Hostomel Airport (GML), located northwest of Kyiv, was quickly targeted by Russian forces during the early stages of the Ukrainian conflict, back in February. The airport serves as the home base for the Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov, which also utilizes it for test flights and its freight airline. The Antonov An-225 had landed at the base a few days prior to Russia starting its armed invasion of Ukraine, supposedly for maintenance. However, “Mriya,” which means “the dream” or “inspiration,” would never again take to the skies. The Russian troops did in fact use military force against the aircraft, destroying it.
Illia Ponomarenko, a defense reporter for the Kyiv Independent, tweeted in May a tweet that clearly demonstrated the extent of the Antonov An-225’s damage and destruction. The cockpit of the giant airliner has almost entirely split from the rest of the aircraft in Ponomarenko’s footage (shown below) shows how the front portion of the airplane has crashed to the ground. The back of the fuselage, behind the wings, is largely intact, while the forward portion is reduced to a heap of wreckage.
But why there is only one Antonov An-225 until now?
The first Antonov An-225 “Mryia” aircraft was created to support Buran, the Soviet space program. Its first flight took place in 1988, and its mission was to transport the program’s orbiters. Despite ordering two of the giant aircraft, the Soviet space program only received Mryia. Indeed, the Buran program was terminated along with the Soviet Union. As a result, the first Antonov An-225 was stored, while work on the second one was put on hold.
The Antonov An-225 came to the attention of many at the turn of the new century, mostly for cargo purposes. Mryia went back to work, and Antonov intended to complete the second. The producer set a goal in 2006 to finish the second six-engine aircraft by 2008. However, the building process was soon delayed; by 2011, it was estimated that $300 million would be required to complete the aircraft. The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and the ensuing economic crisis led Antonov to the conclusion that it was not economically feasible for the manufacturer to continue with the production of the second aircraft.
How much will it cost to rebuild the An-225?
The amount of money that Antonov would require to rebuild the giant aircraft has been made public. Experts have calculated that the rebuilding of the giant aircraft will cost €500 million ($500 million) after examining what is left of the Antonov An-225. But the Ukrainian company has also said it is early to discuss a specific amount of cash. Therefore, the precise amount will be disclosed at a later time.
The role of the Antonov An-225 in aviation
The Antonov An-225, which has six engines, 32 wheels, and a wingspan the length of a football field, has set 242 world records since it first flew in 1988, according to Antonov. Its role in the aviation industry became even more important during the coronavirus pandemic, as it delivered tons after tons of vital aid to countries all over the world. The aircraft’s wingspan was 88 meters, and its maximum payload capacity was 250 tons. Because of its size, a helicopter or hauling vehicle may fit within.
The Boeing 747-8F, which has a payload capacity of 150 tons, is the next-largest commercial aircraft. The 747-8F, which has both the main deck and lower cargo hold, is in front of the An-124, which can carry up to 150 tons but only has a single deck.
The whale-shaped Airbus BelugaXL, replete with a happy face, is larger than the Antonov in one way: with a length and width of 63 meters and 8 meters, respectively, it has the greatest cargo bay cross-section of any current cargo aircraft.
Do you think the Antonov An-225 will ever take to the skies again? Tell us in the comments section below!