The Antonov An-225 Mriya, also known by NATO as the Cossack, is a strategic airlift aircraft designed by the Antonov Design Bureau. It is the heaviest aircraft in the world, and was originally designed to carry the Soviet Buran space shuttle. It is now capable of carrying any oversized cargo due to its large cargo bay and 16 double-wheel bogies on each main landing gear. There is only one aircraft of this type in existence.
Development – Antonov An-225 Mriya
The Antonov An-225 was designed for the same purpose as the Airbus Beluga and the American Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, to carry the Soviet space program. The aircraft first flew on December 21, 1988, and was displayed at the 1989 Paris Air Show. Two aircraft were built, but only one, registered UR-82060, is in service and is available for commercial service. The second aircraft was partially built in 1989 for the Soviet space program.
The An-225 has six Soloviev D-18T turbofan engines, two more than the An-124, and 32 wheels on its landing gear. The original An-124 cargo door and ramp were deleted to reduce weight. The tail has been changed from a single vertical fin to a pair of horizontal stabilizers with a vertical fin on each end. This tail was designed to support the heavy loads that are distributed across the tail by aerodynamic forces. Unlike the An-124, the An-225 is equipped with a ground-effect landing system.
The World’s Largest Aircraft
With a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tons, the An-225 is the heaviest and largest aircraft in the world. Although the Hughes H-4 Hercules is longer in wingspan and has a higher maximum altitude, it only flew once and did not exceed 21,300 feet. Therefore, the Antonov An-225 is the largest aircraft in the world that has been flown multiple times. It is larger than the Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus A380, which is currently the largest passenger aircraft. In September 2001, the An-225 carried a record load of 253.82 tons and flew at an altitude of 2,000 meters on a closed 1,000-kilometer circular course at a speed of 763.2 kilometers per hour. In November 2004, the An-225 was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for breaking 240 records.
In 1989, Antonov Design Bureau Airlines was founded. The airline, based in Kiev, Ukraine, operated from London Luton Airport in cooperation with Air Foyle HeavyLift. The airline began operations with a fleet of four An-124 aircraft. However, due to the need for larger aircraft in the late 1990s, the original An-225 aircraft was converted into a commercial cargo aircraft. The aircraft’s first commercial flight was on January 3, 2002, from Stuttgart, Germany, to Thumrait, Oman. The flight carried 216,000 pre-packaged meals for United States troops in the region.
Conclusion: The Antonov An-225
The Antonov An-225 Mriya is a truly remarkable aircraft. It is the largest and heaviest aircraft in the world, and is capable of carrying enormous loads. The aircraft has played a significant role in the transportation of oversized cargo, and is sure to continue to do so for many years to come.