LONDON – Let’s take a look back at the Antonov AN-225 Mriya with this epic departure captured very up close by a drone that nearly knocked it out of existence.
You can see the video below, sourced from @ilove_aviation on Twitter:
After 37 years of existence, we, unfortunately, for now, bid farewell to the Antonov AN-225 Mriya. Let’s take a brief look back at this aircraft’s remarkable history.
1985 – The Mriya (Dream) Was Born…
We rewind all of the ways back to 1985 when the aircraft was first built when Ukraine was in the USSR during the Cold War days.
The AN-225 was originally designed to airlift the Energia rocket boosters and the Buran-class orbiters for the Soviet space program, having been designed as a replacement for the Myasishchev VM-T Atlant.
The aircraft went into service on December 21st, 1988, and was first showcased at a public display in the Paris Air Show in 1989.
Antonov Airlines was founded in that same year, with the aircraft originally dubbed to begin operations from London Luton Airport in partnership with Air Foyle HeavyLift.
By 1990, the world got to see the aircraft fly at the Farnborough Air Show, showing off its sheer size and capabilities in the air.
The -225 was needed following additional demand for aircraft larger than the AN-124, its sister aircraft.
The Noughties – Need For A Second Mriya…
As the millennia began, the need for a second AN-225 was becoming more obvious due to its commercial successes, especially following its first commercial flight between Stuttgart and Oman in January 2002 following commercial approval in 2001.
By the start of 2006, Antonov ceased its partnership with AirFoyle and partnered up with Volga-Dnepr instead, hence why we see the current blue and yellow paint scheme that was eventually added in 2009.
In September 2006, a decision was made to begin work on the second airframe, which was originally scheduled for completion in 2008.
However, by August 2009, work on the aircraft had been abandoned, with the Antonov CEO mentioning in May 2011 that around $300 million worth of financing would be needed.
In that same year, the Airspace Industry Corporation of China contacted Antonov and expressed interest in the AN-225 to turn it into an air launch-to-orbit platform for its space program.
Unfortunately, such a program didn’t materialize, and Ukroboronprom was still seeking financial assistance to get this aircraft produced.
By April 2013, the Russian government announced plans to revive its USSR days and use the -225 as a midair launchpad.
Breaking Records Through The Noughties & The 10’s…
Of course, the sheer size of the AN-225 was known for breaking some considerable records.
It holds the following records:
- Airlifted single-item payload – 189.9 tonnes.
- Airlifted total payload – 253.8 tonnes.
- Transported payload – 247 tonnes.
In 2010, the aircraft carried the world’s longest piece of air cargo at 42.1 meters wide, which were test wind turbine blades bound for Skyrdstrup, Denmark, from Tianjin, China.
What is very clear is that whilst this aircraft has been destroyed, it is going to take a lot to surpass or beat such records going forward.
Destruction in Gostomel…
And as we know, the last week in February/March has been the hardest for the Antonov company, especially with its AN-225 being destroyed by the Russian army.
There were, of course, multiple rumors, to begin with, that the aircraft had survived the attacks, but footage and photos later revealed it got heavily damaged.
We, of course, now ask, what is next for the AN-225, and will it be restored to its former glory?