October 1, 2022
A Look back at the Antonov AN-225: Ukraine’s Finest
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A Look back at the Antonov AN-225: Ukraine’s Finest

DALLAS – The Antonov AN-225 Mriya (Dream), was built for this task. It was built to replace the MyasishcheVM-T, which was a four-engine T-tailed aircraft.

There were only two VM-Ts ever built, and they operated from 1982 to 1989. That year, the Antonov 225, the world’s largest plane, would become their replacement.

Both aircraft began to operate for the Soviet Space Program, carrying rockets and other large space vehicles to and from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which is home to the Soviet Space Program.

PHOTO: Dmitry Pichugin

The Mriya’s First Flight


The Antonov AN-225’s first flight was on December 21, 1988. It flew from Kyiv on a 74-minute test flight. The following year, the aircraft appeared at the Paris Air Show on static display and then at the Farnborough Air Show in 1990, where it flew during the public days.

Two AN-225s were originally ordered. However, only one aircraft was ever fully built. During the collapse of the Soviet Union, the second aircraft was only partially built and was later put into storage.

PHOTO: Sergey Kustov

A New Life as a Cargo Aircraft


During the period of the Soviet Union’s collapse, the only operational AN-225 was stored in 1994, where its six Ivchenko-Progress D-18T turbofan engines were removed for use on the smaller Antonov 124 aircraft.

However, shortly after this, it became clear that a cargo aircraft larger than the Antonov 124 was required for more abnormal cargo loads, which the first operational Antonov 225 was re-engined and put back into commercial service.

On May 23, 2001, the AN-225 received its type certification from the Interstate Aviation Committee Aviation Register (IAC AR), and later that year, in September, the type flew a record load of four main battle tanks at a weight of 253.82 tonnes.

The behemoth still retained its 1980s style cockpit but had a few upgrades, such as new autopilot and navigation systems, to keep up with the constantly changing aviation industry and to enable it to fly under modern IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions.

Antonov Airlines UR-82060 Antonov An-225 Mriya. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

A One-of-a-kind Spectacle


Every time the 225 flies, crowds at airports will gather in the thousands, just to watch the aircraft arrive or depart due to its immense size and uniqueness, especially with there only being one of its kind.

However, in August 2016, representatives from Antonov Design Bureau and Airspace Industry Corporation of China (AICC) signed an agreement to recommence production of the AN-225 and to fly the first model in 2019, but unfortunately, due to the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, required parts were unavailable at that moment. However, they could be produced in China instead.

The aircraft was permitted to fly cargo loads up to a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 640 tonnes up to a distance of 15,400 kilometers, or 8,351 nautical miles, with a service ceiling of 36,000 feet (ft).

The 225’s Progress D-18T turbofan engines, sometimes known as Lotarev D-18T, produced 51,670 pounds of thrust and weighed 4.1 tonnes each. These particular engines are manufactured by Motor Sich in Zaporizhia, Ukraine.

I have only ever seen the Antonov 225 once myself, which was in 2013 at Manchester Airport (MAN), United Kingdom, and in my opinion, photographs do not do the size of this aircraft justice.

When the AN-225 visited MAN, it taxied past the largest mass-produced passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380, which looked minuscule compared to the Antonov equipment.

The AN-225 continues to be one of the aviation industry’s greatest feats of engineering, which makes its loss, without lessening the significance of the lives lost, more mournful during the current Ukraine invasion by Russian forces.

Antonov Design Bureau UR-82060 Antonov AN-225 engine perspective. Photo: Christian Winter/Airways

The Battle of Hostomel


Earlier this week, the Antonov 225 Mriya was destroyed by Russian forces in Ukraine. The Mriya was the world’s largest airplane, the only one of its kind ever built.

Russia attacked Ukraine on Thursday morning last week. The invasion began with missile strikes in major cities on Ukrainian infrastructure, followed by a land invasion from Ukraine’s Northern, Eastern, and Southern Borders.

The Antonov Airbase in Hostomel, which was attacked by Russian helicopters and paratroopers on Thursday evening in what is now called the Battle of Antonov Airport, aka the Battle of Hostomel, was one of the first major flashpoints. At the time, Russian Ka-52 and Mi8 helicopters could be seen heading towards the airport on the outskirts of Kyiv in videos posted on the internet.

Since the news broke, further footage surfaced showing massive smoke billowing from Mriya’s hangar, followed by footage showing the plane being severely damaged. The Mriya was destroyed.

Photo: Antonov Design Bureau

Will There Be Another?


While Antonov only built one AN-225, a second airframe is still intact and held by the company near Kyiv, Ukraine. The second airframe was partially built for the Soviet space program in the late 1980s, but it was never completed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Buran (Russian Space Shuttle) program was canceled.

In 2021, Antonov’sparent company, UkrOboronProm, announced it was looking for a foreign investor to help kickstart the project, with Turkey in its crosshairs. However, the status of the project remained unknown.

In response to the destruction of the AN-225, UkrOboronProm issued a statement saying, “Russians destroy An-225 ‘Mriya’. It will be restored at the expense of the occupant.”


Featured image: Antonov Airlines (UR-82060) Antonov An-225 Mriya. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways. Story updated by Helwing Villamizar. For more information on the AN-225, visit Chapman Freeborn.

DALLAS Back in the 1980s, Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov Design Bureau was tasked with producing an aircraft that could carry the Russian space shuttle, the Buran, for the Soviet Space Program.

The Antonov AN-225 Mriya (Dream), was built for this task. It was built to replace the MyasishcheVM-T, which was a four-engine T-tailed aircraft.

There were only two VM-Ts ever built, and they operated from 1982 to 1989. That year, the Antonov 225, the world’s largest plane, would become their replacement.

Both aircraft began to operate for the Soviet Space Program, carrying rockets and other large space vehicles to and from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which is home to the Soviet Space Program.

PHOTO: Dmitry Pichugin

The Mriya’s First Flight


The Antonov AN-225’s first flight was on December 21, 1988. It flew from Kyiv on a 74-minute test flight. The following year, the aircraft appeared at the Paris Air Show on static display and then at the Farnborough Air Show in 1990, where it flew during the public days.

Two AN-225s were originally ordered. However, only one aircraft was ever fully built. During the collapse of the Soviet Union, the second aircraft was only partially built and was later put into storage.

PHOTO: Sergey Kustov

A New Life as a Cargo Aircraft


During the period of the Soviet Union’s collapse, the only operational AN-225 was stored in 1994, where its six Ivchenko-Progress D-18T turbofan engines were removed for use on the smaller Antonov 124 aircraft.

However, shortly after this, it became clear that a cargo aircraft larger than the Antonov 124 was required for more abnormal cargo loads, which the first operational Antonov 225 was re-engined and put back into commercial service.

On May 23, 2001, the AN-225 received its type certification from the Interstate Aviation Committee Aviation Register (IAC AR), and later that year, in September, the type flew a record load of four main battle tanks at a weight of 253.82 tonnes.

The behemoth still retained its 1980s style cockpit but had a few upgrades, such as new autopilot and navigation systems, to keep up with the constantly changing aviation industry and to enable it to fly under modern IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions.

Antonov Airlines UR-82060 Antonov An-225 Mriya. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

A One-of-a-kind Spectacle


Every time the 225 flies, crowds at airports will gather in the thousands, just to watch the aircraft arrive or depart due to its immense size and uniqueness, especially with there only being one of its kind.

However, in August 2016, representatives from Antonov Design Bureau and Airspace Industry Corporation of China (AICC) signed an agreement to recommence production of the AN-225 and to fly the first model in 2019, but unfortunately, due to the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, required parts were unavailable at that moment. However, they could be produced in China instead.

The aircraft was permitted to fly cargo loads up to a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 640 tonnes up to a distance of 15,400 kilometers, or 8,351 nautical miles, with a service ceiling of 36,000 feet (ft).

The 225’s Progress D-18T turbofan engines, sometimes known as Lotarev D-18T, produced 51,670 pounds of thrust and weighed 4.1 tonnes each. These particular engines are manufactured by Motor Sich in Zaporizhia, Ukraine.

I have only ever seen the Antonov 225 once myself, which was in 2013 at Manchester Airport (MAN), United Kingdom, and in my opinion, photographs do not do the size of this aircraft justice.

When the AN-225 visited MAN, it taxied past the largest mass-produced passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380, which looked minuscule compared to the Antonov equipment.

The AN-225 continues to be one of the aviation industry’s greatest feats of engineering, which makes its loss, without lessening the significance of the lives lost, more mournful during the current Ukraine invasion by Russian forces.

Antonov Design Bureau UR-82060 Antonov AN-225 engine perspective. Photo: Christian Winter/Airways

The Battle of Hostomel


Earlier this week, the Antonov 225 Mriya was destroyed by Russian forces in Ukraine. The Mriya was the world’s largest airplane, the only one of its kind ever built.

Russia attacked Ukraine on Thursday morning last week. The invasion began with missile strikes in major cities on Ukrainian infrastructure, followed by a land invasion from Ukraine’s Northern, Eastern, and Southern Borders.

The Antonov Airbase in Hostomel, which was attacked by Russian helicopters and paratroopers on Thursday evening in what is now called the Battle of Antonov Airport, aka the Battle of Hostomel, was one of the first major flashpoints. At the time, Russian Ka-52 and Mi8 helicopters could be seen heading towards the airport on the outskirts of Kyiv in videos posted on the internet.

Since the news broke, further footage surfaced showing massive smoke billowing from Mriya’s hangar, followed by footage showing the plane being severely damaged. The Mriya was destroyed.

Photo: Antonov Design Bureau

Will There Be Another?


While Antonov only built one AN-225, a second airframe is still intact and held by the company near Kyiv, Ukraine. The second airframe was partially built for the Soviet space program in the late 1980s, but it was never completed after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Buran (Russian Space Shuttle) program was canceled.

In 2021, Antonov’sparent company, UkrOboronProm, announced it was looking for a foreign investor to help kickstart the project, with Turkey in its crosshairs. However, the status of the project remained unknown.

In response to the destruction of the AN-225, UkrOboronProm issued a statement saying, “Russians destroy An-225 ‘Mriya’. It will be restored at the expense of the occupant.”


Featured image: Antonov Airlines (UR-82060) Antonov An-225 Mriya. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways. Story updated by Helwing Villamizar. For more information on the AN-225, visit Chapman Freeborn.

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