The AN-225 Mriya

The Beast That Will Never Return!

By mark steven –, CC BY-SA 3.0,

There is one aircraft in our minds that will hold its fame for ages to come. It is none other than the iconic AN-225 Mriya. Recent news updates left us in tears as Antonov Airlines confirmed the aircraft has been damaged beyond repair due to Russian attacks. This short article is a tribute to the behemoth and we will reveal some unknown, yet fascinating facts you would love to hear about the Mriya.

The Aircraft was not Born as a Conventional Freighter

It is well known that AN-225 is capable of handling outsized cargo and inherits a humongous lifting capacity of over 250 tonnes. However, it was not meant to carry cargo as she did in recent years. The Antonov Design Bureau developed the aircraft in the 1980s to facilitate Buran-class orbiters- a Russian reusable spacecraft more likely to the space shuttle’s Orbiter Vehicle. With the collapse of the Buran program in 1993, Mriya was left unattended in a parking facility for almost eight years. Later, Antonov Airlines resurrect the aircraft intending to utilize it as a freighter. 

Largest Wingspan in the World

A walk from tip to tip in your normal gait across the Mriya will take more than a minute. This 88-meter (290 feet) walk takes you across the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational status. High-mounted wings of the aircraft allow more room for operations in harsh environments and assist for Dutch roll damping.  

32-Wheeled Landing Gear Supporting the World’s Heaviest Flying Creature

Initially, the aircraft weighed over 600 tonnes at maximum take-off weight and a floor reinforcement conducted in 2001 added more weight pushing the maximum take-off weight all the way up to 640 tonnes. This huge weight is supported with a 32-wheeled landing gear. The nose landing gear has four wheels and left and right landing gears have 14 wheels each. AN-225 is equipped with the same nose landing gear used with AN-124 with the kneeling ability to lower the ramp reducing ground clearance for the ease of loading and unloading. 

Powerful Onboard Crane

A powerful onboard crane within the aircraft is capable of lifting weights up to 30 tonnes. The same crane is available in the AN-124 Ruslan as well. 

World Record for the Heaviest Single Cargo Item Ever Carried Through Air 

In 2009, AN-225 made history by airlifting the heaviest single-piece load from Frankfurt to Armenia. The power station generator weighed 187.6 tonnes and it was a milestone proving the sturdiness of the aircraft. 

A Hope is Over the Horizon

With service life extended, AN-225 was expected to remain in service until 2033. At the moment of the writing, the world has lost this workhorse and is damaged beyond repair. However, another AN-225 was planned for the Buran program and it was underway when the program was canceled. There is a slight chance that Antonov Airlines would reconsider completing the half-done aircraft in the future and if it does, we are the lucky folks to see her back soaring to the skies.

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