Ukrainian Antonov An-225 Mriya, world's largest plane

One year since the destruction of the Antonov 225 Mriya by Russian bombs

February 24, 2023 marked one year since the destruction of the Antonov 225, the largest aircraft in the world. On that day, during the first days of the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Army bombed the Hostomel Airport, where the megaloader was located.

The news was not confirmed until March 4: after 33 years of history, the aircraft had been destroyed in the Hostomel bombing and only the wreckage remained. Commercial aviation was left without the only aircraft capable of carrying a payload of 250,000 kilos, as Transponder1200 recalls.

In the last days of February, with Putin’s invasion imminent, the Ukrainians began evacuating aircraft from Hostomel. They started with the fleet of An-124s, the little brother of the Antonov An-225 ‘Mriya’. The latter was scheduled to depart on February 24, but flights were blocked.

The Russian bombs arrived and the huge plane was burned to the ground. It was estimated at the time that it would take more than five years to recover it, at a cost of $3 billion.

“Russia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya’ (‘Dream’ in Ukrainian), but they will never be able to destroy our ‘dream’ of a strong, free and democratic European state. We will win!” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

It was considered the largest aircraft in the world and was so until the first flight of Stratolaunch2 on April 13, 2019, although that was an experimental flight. In fact, the Antonov An-225 was designed to carry the Soviet Union’s Buran space shuttles.

On February 6, 2022, it made its last flight. It carried 90 tons of coronavirus rapid tests between the Chinese city of Tianjin and the Danish cargo airport of Billund. Then, now empty, it returned home to Hostomel Airport outside Kiev.

The Antonov An-225 became a reality in 1988. It had a maximum take-off weight of 640 tons and the world’s largest wingspan of 88 meters. With its six giant Progress D-18T engines, this cargo aircraft held the air cargo transport record with 189,980 kilograms in a single flight.

In May, the Ukrainians began cleaning up Hostomel Airport by removing the wreckage of helicopters, tanks and combat vehicles that were destroyed by the Russians on the airfield. The wreckage of the Antonov An-225 has remained in place on the instructions of the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office, which considers it evidence for the criminal investigation against Russia.

Eugene Gavrylov, the company’s general director, says that parts of the destroyed aircraft that are in good condition will be used. He said this in November, when an exhibition on the Antonov An-225 opened at Germany’s Leipzig-Halle airport.

“According to expert analysis, about 30% of the components of the destroyed aircraft and another that was never completed can be used for the second copy. The cost is estimated at least 500 million euros, however, it is too early to talk about a specific amount,” the builder commented on its Twitter account.

For the wait and to remind us of the colossal proportions of the An-225, at least it can be enjoyed digitally. Microsoft Flight Simulator has just included it in its platform. You can now “fly” the world’s largest aircraft.

-Thailand News (TN)

TN

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