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Antonov had a dream. A big one

Staff writer |
Antonov An-225 looks like a big, lazy bird, too sleepy to fly. Mriya (dream) is the world's largest aircraft, big enough to carry other planes around the world.

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When you need to deliver 220 cars, Boeing's fuselage, or Space Shuttle to the destination thousands of miles away, and you want it fast, you'll turn to the Antonov AN-225 Mriya.

Mriya is an example of the glory days of Russian space era, a plane built to transport a shuttle for the Soviet space programme and now transformed into the world's largest single carrier of air cargo. Today it is used to carry huge machinery around the world but it can't be seen everywhere: the huge plane need a very long runway. One of such places is Shannon Airport where Mriya was last week, taking a break on its voyage from USA to Denmark to China.

When Antonov An-225 Mriya was built in 1988, it was bigger than any airliner ever built by 50%. Its main purpose was the transportation of the Russian Space Shuttle Buran and it was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in Kiev, Ukraine. Antonov, a legendary aircraft factory, already had built good and large cargo aircraft such as the Antonov An-124 Ruslan, but Mriya was Antonov's highlight.

Mriya has set up 240 world records including transportation of the heaviest cargo with mass of 253 tonnes, the heaviest single peace of cargo with mass of 186,7 tonnes as well as the longest cargo having length of 42,1 meter.

Mriya is 84 meters long (275 ft 7 in), has a wingspan of 88.4 meters, and from the ground to the highest point you will measure 18.1 meter. Its unique feature is a 32-wheel landing gear system, able to take maximum takeoff weight of 640,000 kilograms. Six huge engines are giving the maximum speed of 850 km/h, while cruising to its destination that can be 15,400 kilometers away.

Although Mriya was built with heavy payload in mind, the main thing is that Mriya serves people reliably. The airplane is involved in humanitarian operations: it performed several flights on delivery generators to Samoa. They had to be removed because they were damaged by tsunami and without them all eastern coast was without energy. Only spacious cabins of the AN-225 were able to accommodate ten 12-tons generators at once. It also delivered humanitarian cargoes, generators and technique to Japan, with total mass of 140 tonnes.

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