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Antonov An-225 Mriya: The End of an Icon, for now.

Antonov AN-225 Mriya
Written by Sam Davies

While the world watches on at the pain and terror President Putin is placing on the people of Ukraine, the aviation world is mourning another loss. On Sunday 27th, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced that the Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft in the world had been destroyed by Russia soldiers. Although the loss of just one aircraft is in no way as horrifying at the human loss of the conflict, the aircraft was still seen by Ukraine and the world as a marvel of aviation and an apex of Soviet aeronautical engineering.  

Designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Ukrainian SSR, the An-225 Mriya (Ukrainian for ‘dream’) was the go-to plane to transport heavy loads around the world. With a max take-off weight of 640 tons, it was not uncommon for the aircraft to carry turbine blades, trucks, train cars and even helicopters. Initially, it was designed to carry the Buran space shuttle in the now defunct program to rival NASA’s space shuttle. In 2020 and 2021, the aircraft was used to haul PPE and vaccines to countries around the world to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic 

The aircraft has long been seen by Ukrainians as a symbol of moving forward: no matter how heavy the load is, it still rises and keeps going. 

But, during the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, the An-225 was destroyed by Russian forces during the Battle of Antonov Airport, where arial images show the hangar for the aircraft in flames, with speculation that the aircraft has been destroyed. This was later confirmed by Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, in a tweet that although the aircraft had been destroyed, the Russians will never be able to destroy the dream of a ‘strong, free and democratic’ Ukrainian state. The official Ukrainian government twitter also acknowledged the loss but stated that they will rebuild the one-of-a-kind aircraft. However, the manufacturer of the aircraftAntonov, has stated that until the inspections are finished, they cannot determine if it is completely destroyed or not. 

The largest aircraft in the world, that is in active use, is now the Airbus A380.  

About the author

Sam Davies

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