Antonov An-225: world's largest plane destroyed in Ukraine to be rebuilt

About 30 per cent of the components of the original aircraft can be used after February's attack by Russian forces

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The world's largest plane, the Antonov An-225 — severely damaged by Russian forces in Ukraine earlier this year — will be rebuilt, the aircraft manufacturer has said.

The aircraft, known as Mriya, was almost destroyed at the Antonov Airport in Hostomel, near Kiev in February.

However, state-owned Antonov has issued a statement on its Facebook page with an update on plans to restore the plane.

"Currently, construction work in this direction has begun," it said.

"According to the available expert estimate, there are currently about 30 per cent of the components that can be used for the second model aircraft. The cost of building the plane is estimated at least €500 million ($500m). However, it's early to talk about a certain amount."

It added that more detailed information will be shared "after Ukraine's victory in the war".

Reports claiming that work was already under way were inaccurate, Antonov said.

Ukraine's state-owned defence conglomerate Ukroboronprom said in February that the aircraft would "definitely" be rebuilt, with restoration estimated to take more than $3bn and five years.

Initially, the condition of the aircraft was only known from satellite images, which showed damage to its hangar.

Antonov said that its technical condition could not be reported until experts had inspected it.

Antonov moved its operational base from Kyiv-Antonov airport in Hostomel, Ukraine, to Leipzig, Germany in May due to the damage at the site.

Antonov An-225's role in aviation

With its six engines, 32 wheels and a wingspan that matches the length of a football pitch, the Antonov An-225 has claimed 242 world records since it started flying in 1988, according to Antonov.

Its role in the aviation industry took on greater significance amid the coronavirus pandemic, as it delivered tonne after tonne of vital aid to countries worldwide.

Mriya ("dream" in Ukrainian) entered commercial service in 2001 and was originally developed to transport the Energiya carrier-rocket and Buran space shuttle.

The aircraft could carry a maximum payload of 250 tonnes and had a wingspan of 88 metres. Its size meant it could fit a helicopter or haulage lorry inside.

The next biggest commercial airliner is the Boeing 747-8F, which can handle up to 150 tonnes. Sandwiched between is the An-124, which can handle up to 150 tonnes but has a single deck, in contrast to the 747-8F, which has both the main deck and lower cargo hold.

The Airbus BelugaXL, shaped like a whale and complete with a smiley face, is bigger than the Antonov in one respect: at 63 metres long and 8 metres wide, it has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft.

Updated: November 08, 2022, 11:43 AM
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