Antonov Launches Fundraiser for ‘Revival’ of World’s Largest Cargo Airplane

Antonov Company, manufacturer of the iconic An-225, the world’s largest cargo airplane which was apparently destroyed last month in Ukraine, has launched a global fundraiser “for the revival of the aircraft.”

Mriya AN-225 landing at the Gostomel airport in July of 2020. [File photo: Shutterstock]

Antonov Company, manufacturer of the iconic An-225, the world’s largest cargo airplane that was apparently destroyed in Ukraine, has launched a global fundraiser “for the revival of the aircraft.”

The dramatic message appeared Thursday on the Antonov Company Facebook page, saying “the team of DP ‘ANTONOV’ strongly considers it necessary to prevent the complete irreversible loss of the legendary aircraft as one of the symbols of modernity and to begin work on the revival of the flagman of transport aviation.”

The one-of-a-kind, six-engined transport named Mriya—Ukrainian for “dream”—appeared to be destroyed in videos and images posted earlier this month, leaving the aviation community heartbroken. 

It appeared to be a tragic end to a magnificent record-setting career that stretched back more than 30 years to Mriya’s initial mission as a carrier plane for the Soviet space shuttle. 

In 2001, Mriya began a new mission as a commercial transport aircraft for unusually large equipment. The high-wing monoplane’s 290-foot wingspan and 275-foot length drew crowds of people everywhere it flew, including destinations far from its Ukrainian home, like Texas, California, Australia, and South America. 

‘Lack of Funds’

Antonov’s Facebook post noted a “lack of funds” for reviving the airplane. It blamed the situation on a “difficult time” for Ukraine, as Russian forces continued their assault across the nation. The post said Mriya was “destroyed” in “the process of aggression against Ukraine.”

Ukroboronprom, a Ukraine defense industry company, put the price of rebuilding Mriya at $3 billion.

“This loss has stunned the team of DP ‘ANTONOV,’ the global aviation community, numerous cargo customers with the largest aircraft,” the post said. 

“We propose to establish the international fund for the revival of the transport aircraft An-225 ‘Dream,’” Antonov said, offering many reasons behind the campaign including “structural and scientific and technical documentation” and chiefly, “presence, great desire and inspiration of the team of DP ‘ANTONOV.’” 

The message offered no details about the proposed revival or what that process might entail, but it did include a list of banks where funds were asked to be sent. 

Mriya Facts and Figures

Some random bits of knowledge about this twin-tailed behemoth: 

  • Ukrainian registration number: UR-82060 
  • It appeared at the 1989 Paris Air Show, carrying the Soviet space shuttle. 
  • The An-225’s huge flight deck included workstations for a flight engineer and a navigator. 
  • The airplane had no rear loading ramp. Instead, its cargo was loaded through a lifting nose visor. 
  • The cargo cabin was fully pressurized. 
  • The An-225 set many cargo transport records including carrying the longest cargo item in aviation history: two wind turbine blades each measuring 138 feet, according to Antonov. 
  • Engines: Six, Progress D-18T high-bypass turbofans, manufactured by Motor-Sich
  • Navigation/Avionics: A-835M flight/navigation avionics suite
  • MTOW: 1.4 million pounds 
  • Cruise speed: 432 knots (800 km/h) 
  • Operational range: 8315 nm (15,400 km) 
  • Empty weight: 628,317 pounds
  • Number of landing gear wheels: 32
Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.

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