The Antonov AN-225 Mriya is the largest aircraft ever built and only one of its kind. It was such an iconic aircraft that it drew a huge number of spotters to the airports.
What is the story behind the AN-225?
The AN-225 made its first flight on the 21st of December 1988 taking off from the factory aerodrome in Svyatoshyn. The airplane was flown by a crew headed by Oleksandr Galunenko. Mriya was developed for transportation of the Buran shuttle orbiter and components of the Energiya carrier rocket. The AN-225 was also expected to be used as a flying space launching site in the reusable aerospace transport system (MAKS) with the airplane making its first stage and a small-size space shuttle with a fuel tank – the second stage.
Mriya can deliver extra-heavy oversize cargo to any point on the globe carrying it either inside the fuselage or on external stores. Two AN-225 airplanes were built. Construction of one of the aircraft was completed. Fuselage and tail unit were assembled at Antonov Kyiv Mechanical Works facility in Kyiv, while the wing center section and outer wing panels were assembled at Valerii Chkalov Tashkent Production Association in Tashkent. The wings and wing center sections were transported from Tashkent to Kyiv on the An-22 Antaeus (Antei).
|Wing span (m)||88.40|
|Wing area (m²)||905.0|
|Cruise speed (km/h)||800|
|Operational range (km)||15 400|
|Operational ceiling (m)||9 000|
|16th of October 1986||approval of the Requirements Specifications for development of a multiple-purpose airplane for the aerospace system which, according to the Enactment of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers No. 132-51, also included the Buran shuttle orbiter and the Rassvet (Energiya) carrier .|
|20th of May 1987||publication of Enactment of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers No. 587-132 regarding launch of development and construction of the airplane with code designation “400М” (later – “402” or AN-225).|
|30th of November 1988||the airplane that was later named “Mriya” is rolled out of the ANTONOV ASTC assembly shop.|
|20th of December 1988||the crew including: Oleksandr Galunenko (captain), Sergii Gorbik (co-pilot), Sergii Nechayev (navigator), Oleksandr Shuleshchenko (senior flight engineer), Volodymyr Gusar (flight engineer), Vyacheslav Belousov (radio operator) and Mykhaylo Kharchenko (leading test flight engineer) first flew the AN-225.|
|February 1989||Mykhaylo Gorbachov, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, visited the AN-225 at the Kyiv Boryspil Airport. It was aboard the Mriya that a historic decision was made to place two An-124s at the disposal of Antonov ASTC. This event opened the flood-gates for commercial transport operations using the Ruslans and served as an incitement for setting up the Antonov Airlines, air transport division of the ASTC.|
|22nd of March 1989||Mriya takes off with 156.3 tons of cargo and establishes 110 world speed, altitude and weight-to-altitude records within 3 hours and 45 minutes of flight.|
|13th of May 1989||Mriya takes off from the Baikonur aerodrome with its principal cargo – Buran orbiter weighing about 60 tons – carried piggy-back. 13 test flight were accomplished in such vehicles configuration in the Baikonur area.|
|June 1989||demonstration of Mriya with Buran at the 38-th Paris International Aerospace Show at Le Bourget (France).|
|May 1990||Mriya (captain Sergii Gorbik’s crew) makes its first commercial flight carrying a Т-800 tractor weighing over 110 tons from Chelyabinsk to Yakutia.|
|21st of June 1991||the aerospace system comprising Mriya and the British Aerospace Interim HOTOL reusable spacecraft is presented at the European Space Agency headquarters in Paris .|
|7th of May 2001||Mriya’s first flight (pilot in command – А.V. Galunenko) after reconditioning overhaul following a seven-years downtime on the aerodrome.|
|26th of May 2001||AN-225 Type Certificate is handed in during a new runway opening ceremony at Boryspil airport.|
|11th of September 2001||Mriya sets 124 world and 214 national speed, altitude and weight-to-altitude records.|
|16th of June 2004||having flown the AN-225 with 247 tons of cargo (4 pipe-laying machines) from Prague (Czech Republic) to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) the crew headed by Anatolii Moiseyev set six world records.|
|10th of June 2010||the AN-225 carries the longest cargo item in the history of air transportation. Two wind turbine blades 42.1 meters each were delivered by air from China to Denmark for special testing.|
|27th of September 2012||on the opening day of AviaSvit -ХХΙ Aerospace Show, Mriya lifted an art exhibition of the Globus Gallery (500 paintings by 120 Ukrainian artists) accommodated in the airplane’s cargo compartment, to the altitude of 10150 m. The flight was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.|
|2016||Ukrainian AN-225 Mriya carries a cargo item weighing 182 tons (a 155-ton electric turbine accommodated in a special-purpose 27-ton carcass is delivered from São Paulo (Brazil) to Santiago (Chile) ).|