“No other name carries more weight.” Antonov AN-225 Mriya, a legendary airplane, was born in Ukraine’s heart, making its maiden flight the largest aircraft ever. Even though some other aircraft have a wider wingspan, the largest aircraft title belongs to the AN-225 Mriya with its massive size, MTOW of 640 tons, and carrying capacity of 250 tons. Mriya, “dream” in Ukrainian, was a dream aircraft to see for all aviation enthusiasts, and its name suited it beautifully.
Mriya, which first took to the air on December 21, 1988, was designed to carry the Buran shuttle orbiter and parts of the Energiya carrier rocket. It was based on the design of its smaller sibling, the AN-124. Antonov Kyiv facilities constructed the fuselage and tail unit, while AN-22s transported wing panels produced in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to the Ukrainian capital. I should also mention that the Antonov AN-22, with its four contra-rotating propellers, is the largest turboprop plane ever built.
After Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, the AN-225 Mriya didn’t fly from 1994 to 2001. After seven years, Antonov completed the aircraft’s overhaul in 2001, the same year the AN-225 Type Certificate was obtained. In the years that followed, Mriya started working for Antonov Airlines fleet, which charters planes to carry oversize and heavy loads worldwide.
Antonov only produced one AN-225 and another incomplete aircraft with only the fuselage manufactured. The one-of-a-kind Antonov AN-225 Mriya UR-82060 was destroyed by Russia during the invasion of Ukraine when it was located at Antonov Airport in Hostomel near the capital Kyiv. Since February 24, 2021, Ukraine has been under attack by Russia, changing life entirely for the Ukrainian people.
An AN-124 was the first Antonov plane I ever saw, and it was at an air show. With such clarity, I recall thinking, “If AN-124 is so big, imagine how big Mriya is.” When a show commemorating Ukraine’s 30th anniversary of independence brought the AN-225 to Kyiv, I could see it up close. The enormous beauty wing saluted in the sky, waving to its onlookers. Words were not enough to describe how fascinating it was. After seeing the Airbus A380, Airbus Beluga, and Boeing 747, I can confidently say that none of them can compare in size while watching AN-225 flying.
The Antonov AN-225 is greatly missed by the aviation community, and many question if Antonov will build a second AN-225. Ukraine, after all, has the engineering expertise to complete the second AN-225. Ukrainian aviation pioneers such as Igor Sikorsky, the developer of the Sikorsky helicopter, and companies such as Antonov and Ivchenko-Progress or Motor Sich demonstrate Ukrainian aviation capabilities. I think the AN-225 Mriya will return to the air.
Ukrainian Post (Ukrposhta) honored the AN-225 Mriya with a stamp featuring an illustration by 11-year-old Sofia.
Antonov AN-225 Mriya Design
Based on the AN-124, the AN-225 was designed with several external attachment points added to the top of the fuselage to make it ideal for airlifting large loads like Buran. An AN-124’s fuselage was lengthened by 23 feet by adding fuselage barrel extensions in front and behind the wing, creating a 141-foot-long cargo compartment. The rear ramp was removed to improve fuel efficiency, decrease drag, and boost range while maintaining the cargo room cross-section on the AN-124. AN-225 also has two small crew cabins. The added length made the finished aircraft enormous, measuring 84 meters.Size of cargo compartment is 43.3 x 6.4 x 4.4 meters.
For the bigger AN-225, the wing of the AN-124 was extended. Antonov grew the wing area by 30% using the AN-124’s wing design with minimal modifications, adding space for two more engines and bringing the total number of turbofans to six. The wings were extended, increasing the AN-225’s span to 88.4 meters. The AN-225 Mriya has a high-wing anhedral design.
Since Mriya was supposed to transport Buran, the tail was modified so that airflow wouldn’t be disrupted until after the tail. As a solution, the AN-225 was changed from a single vertical stabilizer to a twin tail with an expanded, swept-back horizontal stabilizer. The aircraft’s ability to carry heavy external loads without disrupting airflow around a conventional tail was made possible by adding a twin tail.
The AN-225 employed a quadruplex fly-by-wire technology, which combines four separate systems for maximum reliability. Pilots, engineers, navigators, and radio operators make up the aircraft’s crew. In 2001, once the Antonov’s refurbishment was complete, the planes were fitted with up-to-date radio and navigation systems, allowing them to fly on civil and commercial routes.
The AN-124 already had strong landing gear built for use in difficult conditions. There were ten primary landing gear units, each with two wheels, for a total of twenty wheels. The leading pair of units on either side could be directed separately. The aircraft could “kneel” down using its moveable landing gear to assist cargo loading. The landing gear on the AN-225 was updated from the AN-124, with two tandem bogeys added for a total of 32 wheels to handle the extra weight.
As was previously indicated, the “kneeling” capability provided by the nose gear was retained in the design to facilitate the loading and unloading of goods. Unlike the AN-124, the AN-225 only had a single cargo door and ramp in the front; therefore, it loaded cargo via the front door and the ramp. The nose cargo door, naturally, hydraulically raised at the front. The AN-225’s pressurized cargo increases the variety of goods that may be transported. The AN-225 even had a crane installed on board to make things easier.
The most recent overhaul of an aircraft was finished in 2001 and cost $20 million. A Ukrainian aircraft engine company named Motor-Sich also contributed to the funds required to aid Antonov. This overhaul added some reinforcement, bringing the MTOW to 640,000 kg.
Table 1: Antonov AN-225 Mriya Specs
|Length||84 m||Cargo Cabin LWH||43.3×6.4×4.4 m|
|Height||18.1 m||Including Ramp||45.4×6.4×4.4 m|
|Wingspan||88.4 m||Cargo Door WH||6.4×4.4 m|
|Max. Payload||250,000 kg||On-Board Crane||30,000 kg lift|
|Max. Volume||1,200 CBM||Crew||6|
Antonov AN-225 Mriya Performance and Powerplant
The Antonov AN-225 Mriya was powered by six Ivchenko-Progress D-18T high-bypass, three spool turbofan engines. A thrust rating of 51 500 lbf is given by the D-18T engine (229kN). Ivchenko-Progress was responsible for the engines’ design, while Motor-Sich was in charge of production. Ivchenko-Progress is a governmental design agency responsible for drafting and planning the development of aviation engines. On the other hand, Motor Sich is among the most significant engine manufacturers in the world.
Propelled by six engines, given its overall thrust of 309,000 lbf, the AN-225 can take off with a maximum weight of 640,000 kilograms (1,410,958 lbs). The aircraft has a total fuel capacity of 35 tons and is equipped with 13 integrated wing tanks. As APU, AN-225 uses Aerosila TA12 turboshaft engines with a maximum power of 287 kW.
The maximum speed of the AN-225 is 850 kilometers per hour, while its cruising speed is 800 kilometers per hour (M0.64) (M0.68). It was certainly not intended for use on short runways and required a runway 3500 meters in length. However, depending on the take-off weight, it can take off from a distance of 2650 meters.
Mriya has a ferrying distance of 15,400 kilometers (8315.33 nm). The range is reduced to around 4500 kilometers when loaded with 200 tons (2430 nm). The AN-225 Mriya has a payload capacity of up to 250 tons. The operational ceiling of the aircraft is 9000 m (29500 ft).
Table 2: Antonov AN-225 Mriya Performance
|Engines||6 x D-18T
(6 x 51,500 lbf)
|Range (With 200 tons payload)||4,500 km|
|Weight||250 tones||Ferry Range||15,400 km|
|MTOW||650 tones||Required Runway Length||3500 m|
|Speed (Cruise)||800 km/h||Ceiling||9,000 m|
|Speed (Max.)||850 km/h||APU||2 x Aerosila TA12|
Antonov Airlines was established in 1989 to meet the growing need for large and heavy cargo international air transport. There were seven AN-124s under the company’s control, and it also had exclusive rights to operate the AN-225 and AN-22. Their planes made it clear that they specialized in transporting huge and heavy loads. In the aviation industry, they were the pioneers who made the AN-124 available for commercial aviation.
Antonov Airlines, founded in the late 1990s, achieved early and sustained success in the lucrative and expanding large freight market worldwide. Antonov Airlines opted to refurbish the only AN-225 built in 1998. After a $20 million refurbishment, Antonov Airlines put the AN-225 Mriya back into service. During its period in service, the AN-225 set 242 outstanding records worldwide. AN-225 transported medical supplies during the Coronavirus Pandemic. During the pandemic, the AN-225 transported over 1,300 tonnes of medical and humanitarian goods in only 2020.
On February 24, 2022, Russia attacked Antonov Airlines’ base. The unique AN-225 (UR-82060) was destroyed. The Antonov AN-225 Mriya’s last journey from Denmark to Ukraine on February 5, returning to base. The AN-225 flew from Manas, Kyrgyzstan, to Billund, Denmark, carrying goods for 8.5 hours before returning to its base. Both an AN-124 and an AN-22 were severely damaged in the same strike.
Some Antonov Airlines AN-124-100 aircraft have been relocated to Leipzig (Germany) / Halle Airport. They are still used for charter flights, primarily to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine.
Antonov AN-225 Compared to Other Aircraft 150
|Antonov AN-225||Airbus A380||Boeing 747-8||Lockheed C-5M Galaxy||Stratolaunch|
|Length||84 m||72.7 m||76.3 m||75.3 m||73 m|
|Height||18.1 m||24.1 m||19.4 m||19.84 m||15 m|
|Wingspan||88.4 m||79.8 m||68.4 m||67.89 m||117 m|
|MTOW||650 tones||560 tones||448 tones||381 tones||590 tones|
FAQ – Antonov AN-225
Question: Is Antonov AN-225 Ukrainian?
Answer: Yes, the AN-225 is Ukrainian, as Antonov is a Kyiv, Ukraine-based firm.
Question: What does Mriya mean in Ukrainian?
Answer: Mriya is the Ukrainian word for “dream.” AN-225 has a lovely name that fits her.
Question: How many Antonov AN-225 are there in the world?
Answer: There was only one AN-225 in existence, which Russia destroyed. There is a second unfinished one that Ukraine wishes to complete.
Question: Where is the Antonov AN-225 now?
Answer: Unfortunately, Russia destroyed only Antonov AN-225 during the invasion of Ukraine near Gostomel/Antonov Airport.
Question: Which is bigger, C5 or AN-225?
Answer: The Antonov AN-225 is not just larger than the C5 Galaxy but also the biggest aircraft ever manufactured.
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