Mriya: world's biggest cargo plane destroyed by the Russian army

It was a true monster of the skies.
Mert Erdemir
Antonov An-225 MriyaWikimedia Commons

The Antonov An-225 "Mriya," known as the biggest aircraft in the world, was destroyed by the Russian army during the conflicts at the Antonov Airfield near Kyiv, the Ukrainian government announced on Sunday.

"The biggest plane in the world "Mriya" (The Dream) was destroyed by Russian occupants on an airfield near Kyiv. We will rebuild the plane. We will fulfill our dream of a strong, free, and democratic Ukraine," reads a tweet posted by the official Ukraine Twitter account.

Mriya's restoration is expected to cost more than $3 billion and take a very long time, according to a Facebook post shared by Ukroboronprom, a manufacturer of military weapons and equipment for Ukraine.

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The aircraft was under repair at the Antonov airport at the time of the invasion, so there wasn't an opportunity to fly out of Ukraine.

US-Funded Radio Liberty posted on Twitter on Sunday a satellite picture purportedly of the plane in flames:

Further information about the Mriya

Nicknamed the "Mriya" or Мрія in Ukrainian (meaning "dream"), this enormous plane was in commercial service since 2001. With a wingspan of 290 feet and a length of 275 feet, the Antonov An-225 was a true monster of the skies.

It weighed around 285 tonnes when empty and was powered by six massive Ivchenko Progress D-18T turbofan engines, each capable of pumping out over 51,600 pounds of thrust on takeoff. These engines were selected for their high takeoff thrust, low specific fuel consumption, and excellent reliability.

The plane was initially designed to transport the Energia carrier-rocket and the Buran spaceplane and was, in turn, an enlargement of the already successful and massive Antonov An-124. It was later purchased by the Ukrainian company Antonov Airlines (now simply Antonov), which has used it as an oversized cargo transporter.

The Antonov An-225 was one-of-a-kind. Only one airframe was ever completed during the Soviet era. A second airframe was also commissioned but was never completed. 

"Based on the AN-124 design, the AN-225 has similar loading capabilities as its forerunner (cranes, winches) but boasts a longer internal cabin (142 ft vs. 120 (43 mt vs. 37 mt)) and higher payload (250 tonnes versus 150 tonnes).

Antonov says that "since its maiden flight on December 21, 1988, the AN-225 has delivered heavy and outsize shipments across the globe. It is scheduled to remain in service until at least 2033."

Cargo is loaded through her nose, and she lacks a rear ramp and cargo door. These were removed from the design in an attempt to reduce her final weight as much as reasonably possible.

The plane is able to "kneel" at the front using a specially designed retractable nosegear system. This allows deliveries to drive directly into the cargo bay and more easily load and unload cargo.

The "Mriya" also had a specially designed twin-tail design, rather than a more traditional single vertical tail fin, to allow her to more easily carry large external items if required. 

The An-225 was, without doubt, one of the most impressive aircraft in the world. Possibly of all time. 

The plane was estimated to still be flying well into the 2030s.

See also: The gargantuan Antonov An-225: The world's largest cargo plane

With additional reporting by Christopher McFadden.

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