Antonov An-225 Mrija (Ukrainian “dream”) is a strategic transport airplane designed specifically for the needs of the USSR space program as a replacement for the currently used Mjasiščev VM-T Atlant. Serving primarily to transport the Buran shuttle and various parts of the carrier missile Energeia or Proton. In 2009, this machine also released its film premiere, when it was seen in a catastrophic movie, entitled 2012. Only one copy was produced in about three and a half years, the second was not due to ending the space program and changing the political situation in Eastern Europe. Significantly significant was also the high acquisition costs (approximately CZK 5 billion) and, in particular, the operating costs of the aircraft.
Antonov An-124 Ruslan became the basis for the development of this giant. In contrast, however, Mrija has a widened fuselage in the shape of a cylinder before and behind the wings. In order to fit them three pairs of turbofan engines Progress D-18T turbofans Series 3 had designers to increase their range. At the same time, however, due to the weight of the used engines, the overall construction of these bearing surfaces was also considerably reinforced. The chassis of this machine has 16 pairs of wheels, some of which are adjustable and allow the aircraft to rotate on a 60-meter wide landing surface. Due to the requirements of acceleration of the aircraft development, the only entrance to the cargo area was the front part of the airplane. For these purposes, the machine also has the option of lowering the front by using a bow chassis. The double vertical tail surface was chosen by the designers to ensure proper air bypass around the outside cargo.
The first test flight took place on 21. December 1988 at the Kiev airport and lasted 74 minutes. By the way, for a take-off at maximum take-off weight (640 tons), the machine needs up to 3,500 m long runways. The maximum accessibility is the airplane is able to reach 19 minutes after the take-off, thanks to the ability to climb at a speed of about 9.4 m / s. During the first month since the first takeoff, he managed to humble a total of 109 world records. The most famous of them is the title of the heaviest aircraft in the world, which gave him both his maximum takeoff weight. It is also the largest wingspan that has flown more than once and is the world’s longest aircraft.
For the purpose of the space program, it was first used on 13. May 1989, when it transported the Buran Shuttle from Zhukovsky Airport to the Baikonur Cosmodrome. A month later, with this Russian shuttle, he also statically appeared at the Paris Air Show. On the way back, the crew was forced to land at the Ruzyne airport due to a failure in the hydraulics. Prague, on June 19, became the second foreign city in which it landed. In addition to the shuttle on the back, MIGu-29, which was crashed in the aforementioned show, was also carried in his bowels. In September of that year the airplane in Czechoslovakia was shown again during the aviation day in Ostrava-Mošnov. The visitors were able to see the first air show of this machine in September of the following year at the Farnborough Airshow International Airshow in England.
Unfortunately, after the shutdown of the shuttle Buran was not found for such a large aircraft, Mrija was shut down in 1994 at Gostomel airport. In the same year, the construction of the second machine was interrupted, and the finished remains were preserved at the Antonov factory. In the years 2000-1, the lay-off aircraft underwent modifications, which concerned mainly the floor reinforcement, thus increasing its total weight to 640 tons. During these modifications, the machine was also modernized with engines and electronics. In the air, Mrija got to the test for only 30 minutes until 7. May 2001.
It is now part of the Antonov Airlines fleet and is being used for commercial purposes. During these flights several times scheduled landings at Václav Havel Airport in Prague and January 2015 also twice at Leoš Janáček Airport in Ostrava-Mošnov. The first flight of this type took place in January 2002, when it transported 216,000 meals for American soldiers on 375 pallets. The most difficult cargo to date was the 247 tons weighing equipment for the oil pipeline, which was transported from Prague to Tashkent.
Due to the enormous interest in using this aircraft, Antonov’s design office decided in 2006 that the construction of the second machine was scheduled to take off in the second half of 2008. Unfortunately, this decision was not finally implemented. Only in May 2011 the Russian Ministry of Defense was interested in this item, and in August of the same year, the manufacturer requested specific information and conditions under which the second An-225 could be completed and upgraded. In June 2016, there was a report on the conclusion of alleged cooperation between the Ukrainian company Antonov and the Chinese company Aerospace Industry Corporation of China, according to which the second specimen should be finalized. In addition, the Chinese side (based on this speculative and apparently unconfirmed report) would like to use the second machine as a model for the subsequent licensing of this type of aircraft.
|Crew||pilot, copilot, 2 flight engineers, navigator and radio operator|
|Engine||6 x Progress D-18T Series 3 Turbofans engine|
|Engine power||6 x 229 kN|
|Span||88, 4 m|
|Height||18, 2 m|
|Wing area||905 m²|
|Available||11 000 m|