The general director of Antonov—the Ukrainian company that owned the recently destroyed An-225 Mriya—has apparently been fired, according to a statement posted by state-owned defense manufacturer, Ukroboronprom.
The one-of-a-kind Antonov An-225 was destroyed in February during intense fighting between Ukrainians and invading Russian forces north of Kyiv at Gostomel Airport (UKKM), where the world’s largest cargo airplane was based.
Antonov State Enterprise general director Serhiy Bychkov was removed from office March 29, the statement said, due to “an official investigation into verification of certain facts published in the media.”
It’s not known what specific facts the statement was referring to, but in a YouTube video posted March 19, former An-225 pilot Maj. Dmytro Antonov said NATO had warned the aircraft’s owners in January about Russia’s impending invasion and recommended that Mriya be deployed outside the country as a safety measure.
The airplane reportedly could not be flown out of danger because it was in need of repairs.
Photos posted in the aftermath of the fighting showed Mriya’s gigantic nose cone riddled with what appear to be bullet or shrapnel holes.
— tolgaozbekcom (@tolgaozbek_com) March 26, 2022
The exact nature of Bychkov’s status was unclear on Thursday. A headline on the statement said he was “suspended,” but the statement text said Bychkov was the target of a “dismissal” and had been “removed … from his office.”
The statement said the dismissal was being appealed to “law enforcement bodies.”
“Ukroboronprom is assisting the Security Service of Ukraine in elucidating the events of possible violations,” it said.
Pride of Ukraine
For three decades, the enormous Mriya was the pride of Ukraine. Its six turbofan engines, 290-foot wingspan and empty weight of 285,000 pounds symbolized the country’s national industrial prowess.
In 1989 it wowed audiences as it touched down at the Paris Air Show carrying the Soviet space shuttle.