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It’s the longest-bodied, longest-winged and heaviest operational plane in the world

Antonov An-225 Mriya touches down in Australia

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“You won’t see it very often because there’s going to be a limited market for the An-225,” says Laure Price, director of aviation strategy at Mott MacDonald Aviation. “For the vast majority of the cargo market, 99.5% or so, the items could be transported by a [Boeing] 747, but there will still be a niche market.”

BBC.com and Justin Parkinson

Who needs an 84m-long aircraft?

An estimated 20,000 people turned out to watch the landing of the giant Mriya aircraft, on its first visit to Australia.

It was built to carry Soviet space shuttles and, 27 years after it entered service, it’s still the world’s biggest plane. The An-225, better known as the Mriya (Ukrainian for “dream”) creates a fuss wherever it goes.

Measuring 84m long with an 88m wingspan, it weighs 175 tonnes without cargo or fuel.

It’s the longest-bodied, longest-winged and heaviest operational plane in the world. Its cargo compartment is 43m by 6.4m by 4.4m – big enough to hold 50 cars.

And there is only one of them. It has just landed in Perth, transporting a 117-tonne generator from the Czech Republic.

“You won’t see it very often because there’s going to be a limited market for the An-225,” says Laure Price, director of aviation strategy at Mott MacDonald Aviation. “For the vast majority of the cargo market, 99.5% or so, the items could be transported by a [Boeing] 747, but there will still be a niche market.”

Designed in Ukraine to carry the Soviet Buran space shuttle on its back, it made its first flight in 1988, coming into service the next year. There were plans to build several more An-225s but these were scuppered by the fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the shuttle programme.

It was taken out of service in 1994 but came back into use in 2001. Since then it’s taken aid to disaster scenes, including the Haiti earthquake of 2010  and theJapanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Its ability to move massive loads also meant it was used to transport generators to replace those wiped out by the American Samoan tsunami of 2009.

The six-engine An-225 can carry a payload of up to 250 tonnes, compared with 140 tonnes for the Boeing 747-800 and 65 tonnes for the Airbus 330.

Its hold door, which is situated in the plane’s nose, is 6.4m wide, compared with 3.4m for a 747-800.

But why, in an age of ever-expanding cargo ships, can’t such items simply go by sea? “The costs of doing that could be huge and delay the arrival of equipment by months,” says Price. “You would probably have to move street lights from the port to the destination too, so it’s very much worth people’s while taking some items like generators by air.”

The Spruce Goose, designed by US millionaire Howard Hughes, had a bigger wingspan – of 98m – though it flew only once, in 1947.

The An-225 stopped at locations in the Middle East and Asia on its way from the Czech Republic to Australia. It’s due to leave Perth this week.

 

The Russian Giant Bird: Biggest Airplane In The World ANTONOV 225

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On December 21, 2013 25 years will pass from the maiden flight of the AN−225 Mriya (Dream), the world’s biggest transport designed by ANTONOV Company.On September 27, 2012, the AN−225 “Mriya” the biggest transport in the world set up a new record. It lifted 500 pictures of 120 Ukrainian artists of the “Globe” gallery of Boyko’s Producer centre to the altitude of 10150 m.

The record was registered by Jack Brookbank, an expert of Guinness Records Book. When answering questions of the journalists, he said in particular: “We acknowledge this record officially. It is very symbolic that for setting up a record this airplane has been chosen: it was already entered into Guinness Records Book. It is a remarkable combination of the outstanding achievements of mankind”.

On October 16, 1986, tactic−technical task to design universal airplane for air−space system including Bouran multiply space apparatus and Rassvet (later – Energiya) carrier−rocket was approved.

In 1988 the AN−225 took−off for the first time

The Mriya’s maximum take−off weight reaches fantastic value of 640 tons that surpasses considerably modern achievements of other airplanes among them take−off mass of the A−380 which is 80 tons less. The AN−225 has 240 world records including transportation of the heaviest cargo weighing 253.8t, the heaviest monocargo – 187t as well as a cargo with length 42.1m.

The AN−124 Ruslan heavy transport designed at ANTONOV DB was chosen as a basis for the AN−225. Full−scale development of a new aircraft took three years and a half.

30 years since the AN-124 Ruslan maiden take-off

Having been launched in service with the Air Force, the Ruslan aircraft has become an unsurpassed transporter of military equipment, weaponry, and vehicles.

Its appearance in the commercial market generated a new segment of services – air transportation of super-heavy and oversized cargoes. The Аn-124 and its further modifications have taken part in numerous humanitarian and peacemaking missions, including those performed under the aegis of the UN.

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The aircraft has flown thousands of strategic transportation missions, including those of the NATO member nations. They have landed in 768 airports of 165 countries of the globe.  Every year these airplanes operate into about 30 new airports.

Ruslan has 30 world records to its credit, including freight, altitude-with-payload, speed, and flight distance records.

During the period of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the first years of Ukrainian independence, it was owing to, primarily, the profitable operation of these airplanes that ANTONOV managed not only to retain its team of highly qualified specialists capable of implementing the full cycle of aircraft development, but also to realize a number of new and advanced aviation programs.

Three new versions of the Ruslan. They differ from the baseline aircraft in having twice longer service lives and time limits and upgraded aircraft equipment. Moreover two of the models – the Аn-124-100М-150 and Аn-124-100-150 – have a payload increased to 150 tons.

Source: www.sofmag.com and Press−service of ANTONOV Company