Watch Pilot Assess Damage to World’s Largest Cargo Plane

In a video walk-around of the charred wreckage of the Antonov An-225 Mriya, a former pilot of the world’s largest operational aircraft has offered his damage analysis of the one-of-a-kind jet.

Antonov An-225 Taxiing Down Runway

With a 290-foot wingspan, the Antonov An-225 was the largest operational aircraft in the world. [Shutterstock]

In a video walk-around of the charred wreckage of the Antonov An-225 Mriya, a former pilot of the world’s largest operational aircraft offers his damage analysis of the one-of-a-kind jet. 

“I thought things would be better here,” says the pilot, Dmytro Antonov (no relation), in a YouTube video purportedly shot last Friday. “There is so much damage and a lot of bullet holes.”

The video may be the best documentation to date revealing extensive damage to the historic airplane since it was involved in intense battles in February between Ukrainians and invading Russian troops at Ukraine’s Gostomel (Antonov) Airport (UKKM). 

In the video, Antonov is heard sighing heavily as he walks around the An-225’s massive wreckage inside an airport hangar, commenting on what may or may not be salvageable. “The cabin is here somewhere, burnt out,” he says.

Discussing the plane’s six engines, the veteran pilot comments: “Three pieces are in order but the rest are not,” according to a YouTube translation. He says some of the flaps appear to be intact and some landing gear appears to be “acceptable for use,” offering the caveat, “the experts will figure it out.”

The walk-around includes what little remains of the flight deck and a shot of Mriya’s titanium tile identifying the aircraft’s certificate of production and plant number. 

The nearly 28-minute video also shows other damaged aircraft at UKKM, including a smaller Antonov transport, an An-124 Ruslan. “What can I say? It sucks, but it will survive.”

Antonov also suggests the unique airplane may be replaced someday. 

“We need to redo production,” he says. “This is such a serious job… the commission would decide everything.”

In a recent Facebook post, Mriya’s operator, the Antonov Company, announced a fundraising campaign aimed at “reviving” the jet. 

Antonov’s Facebook post noted a “lack of funds” for reviving the airplane. The post said Mriya was “destroyed” in “the process of aggression against Ukraine.”

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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