The largest aircraft in the world, the Antonov AN-225 Mriya has always received red-carpet attention wherever it makes an appearance. So, what makes the Antonov AN-225 so interesting? Here are the most interesting facts about this gigantic freighter:
Antonov developed the AN-225 during the Cold War in the 1980’s to piggyback the Buran Space Shuttle for the Soviet space program. The maiden flight took place on 21 December 1988 and in 1989 the AN-225, with the Buran atop, was presented for the first time in the west at the Paris Air Show. It broke 109 world records within months of its first flight.
After the Buran space program was cancelled and the end of the Cold War, the An-225 was mothballed for 8 years. It was later refurbished and operated by Antonov Airlines.
The An-225 is an extension of the very successful Antonov An-124 Ruslan freighter – the hull and the wingspan were both extended by 15m. The plan was to extended the An-225 freighter even further to eight engine configuration, but the project named An-325 has not been complited.
The Antonov An-225 is currently the only commercial freighter with six engines. Its six jet engines produce over 300,000 pounds of total thrust. The An-225 has a fuel capacity of over 660,000 pounds. That’s 14 times more fuel than a 737-800 can carry.
An-225 is the biggest commercially used freighter in the world. It is the biggest heavier-than-air aircraft in terms of length (85.3m) and wingspan (88m) in operational service. In 2001, the An-225 was modified, with a reinforced floor, to increase its maximum gross weight from 600 tons to 640 tons.
An-225 has an increased-capacity landing gear system with 32 wheels, some of which are steerable, enabling the aircraft to turn within a 60 m-wide (200 ft) runway.
There is only one operational An-225 in the world. A second airframe with a slightly different configuration was partially built. Its construction was halted in 1994 because of lack of funding and interest, but revived briefly in 2009, bringing it to 60–70% completion. On 30 August 2016, Antonov agreed to complete the second airframe for Aerospace Industry Corporation of China.