|Weights (kg) and loads|
|Wing Load (kg/m2)||500|
|Trust -to- Weight||0.31|
|Takeoff (with «Буран»)||2650m|
|Ceiling with load|
(after 2001 upgrade)
|Cabin size LxWxH||43x6.4x4.4 m3|
|External load LxD||70x10 m3|
An-225 project started in 1985 specially for Energy/Bouran (ВКС Энергия/Буран) program and similar space projects. Apart from this, and according to the prevailing philosophy, the super plane was supposed to contribute to the fulfillment of the economical plans. It was for example meant to transport devices for oil exploration or power plants to the inhospitable expanses of Siberia. It was designed specifically to carry oversized cargo externally, on the back.
To save time and R&D cost, many elements of the An-124 were used. The wing from just outward of the inboard engine, is similar to the wing of the An-124. An entirely new wing root was designed to add 15m to the span of the smaller giant. The wingspan and wing area of the An-225 Mriya is exceeded only by the 320 foot wing of the Hughes HK-1 (Spruce Goose). An-225 remains the largest airplane ever flown more than once.
The fuselage of the An-225 Mriya has been stretched 15m compared to the An-124, and reinforced. The nose visor of the "Mriya" is essentially the same as that of the "Ruslan". Kneeling of the nose gear struts allows easy access to the cargo cabin. The rear loading doors have been deleted (to save weight) and twin vertical stabilizers were mounted on the ends of the 32.65m horizontal stabilizer to get them out of the turbulence behind the externally mounted payloads. Original full-scale research of "piggy-back" external payloads were performed on the Antonov An-22 "Antheus" in early 80's, when it carried wing elements of future Antonov giants from Ilyushin assembly plant at Tashkent (Uzbekistan) to Kiev.
APU (the redundant fly-by-wire system) of the An-124 was used without any changes but few software parameters. As a result, the handling of An-225 is very similar to the predecessor, and the demonstration in Farnborough in 1990 confirmed the amazing agility of this giant.
The twin nose gear bogies of the An-225 Mriya are steerable. Observers notice that they rise from the runway very early in the take-off roll. The main landing gear has seven pairs of wheels on each side. The rear four pairs of main gear on each side are also steerable, providing the giant plane excellent ground maneuverability - it may make full turn on the 60m wide taxi way.
Crew includes 2 pilots, 2 flight engineers, navigator and radio operator.
Cargo cabin - pressurized, winches for loading and unloading. On top of it - passenger cabin. Nose may be raised for loading in 7min. An-225 carries navigation radar, 4-channel analogous flight control system, navigation systems "Lorraine" and "Omega".
The only An-225 to fly to date rolled out at Kiev in November 1988. Frist flight (1h14min took place on December 21, 1988 with Alexander Galunenko and Sergei Grbik at the helm. Presentation of new aircraft to the World media occurred on February 1 1989. During its record setting flight (March 22) An-225 was loaded with 156,300kg of cargo. 404,800kg plane spend 3h45min in the air, establishing 110 World records (instead of 106 scheduled). On May 13 during its first mission An-225 carried Buran non-stop from Zhukovskij to Baikonur (2700km in 4h25min. Next month the An-225 Mriya CCCP-82060 made if first appearance in the West at the Paris Airshow at le Bourget Aerodrome with the Space Shuttle Buran mounted on its back.
After the collapse of the Soviet Space Shuttle program, the primary function of the An-225 was to attend airshows in the role of the largest operational airplane in the world - and not only. For a while Mria (The Dream) remains a key element of numerous space project. Russian 9 ton Svitiaz (Свитязь), MAKS (2 seats, 10t load), unmanned British HoTOL (Horizontal Take-Off and Landing) and other single and multiple use spacecraft may be launched from the An-225. Models and posters of such projects appear on the airshows, but none are close to the practical stage.
The Aviation Week Aerospace Source Book, issued January 13, 1997 includes an entry in its Launch Vehicle table for a four-stage solid-fuel vehicle that may be launched from the An-225 in 1997. The 178,570 pound rocket was designed by the Makayev Design Bureau in Miass, Russia. It should be 7.9 feet in diameter and 65.6 feet long... and also remained on paper.
Some sources name An-225 as a booster for Lockheed's planned Venture Star and even X-34B.
Apart of the Space programs stands an unique maritime search and rescue project. It uses An-225 as a carrier of WIG vehicle - unarmed variants of "The Eaglet" (Орленок) or "The Lun". WIG craft is delivered to the rescue site on the back of An-225, and after being released glides to water surface. WIG capacity exceeds one of any existing hydroplane - it can carry up to 70 people!
Spring 1994 was a sad day: financial shortages grounded the giant. For several years there will be no flights. The Mria became a hangar queen. The engines were used for spares for Antonov-124. Avionics and other suitable bits and pieces are also reused. Chief flight test engineer of An-70 told Brian Lockett at MAKS-97 that An-70 uses landing lights taken from An-225...
There also was a second airframe, construction of which started shortly after first). It was preserved in semi-assembled state. Many projects claimed that it will be. Claims came from European Space agency (Hotol), Molniya (satellite launcher and space plane), Lockmart and even Antonov itself hoping to find some use to expand capability their cargo fleet. These claims do not take the second airframe any closer to completion though. For a while, even sincere good-wishers accepted the fact that the world largest aircraft is no more...
But times change not only from bad to worse. There are some indications that the story of the An-225 is not over. In September 1999 Antonov ANTK (70% of investments) and «Мотор-Сiч» (Motor-Sich) (Запорожье) signed contract to re-start production of An-225 commercial variant. New D-18T series III engines are chosen to comply with IKAO standards. Finally, it became possible to accomplish certification program (started in 1991, 15 flights to finish).
In February 2001 the first An-225 was restored from its sorry conditions. After reconstruction, aircraft was equipped with all necessary equipment for operation on civil commercial routes, including modern radio and navigation electronics. Since it is planned to carry more of internal loads (originally not planned), cargo cabin floor and nose ramp are to be strengthened. New air conditioning system is installed, cockpit and passenger cabin comfort are improved.
The Ukrainian An-225 Mriya, the world's largest airplane, made a fifteen minute long flight from the Gostomel ("Гостомель") Airport near Kiev, Ukraine. This happened on May 7 2001, when 3-months trial and certification program began. The Ukrainian «Мотор-Сiч» (Motor-Sich) company contributed to the $20,000,000 that was needed for Antonov to get the Mryia back into the air. Antonov displayed the An-225 Mriya at the air show in Le Bourget, near Paris in June and at Zhukovskij in August.
It will be available for commercial operations shortly after the airshow. Some commercial flights are already planned for end of 2001. There are claims that few hundred of preliminary commercial offers are on the table. If enough demand develops for its unique oversize cargo carrying abilities, it is likely that the second prototype of the An-225 will be completed. In June 2001, fuselage assembly of the second aircraft was practically finished. It is possible that Antonov will undertake series production of the type.
In Spring 2001 British "Air Foyle" and "Heavy lift" companies plan to create "Antonov Airlines (UK)" as a single commercial representative of Ukrainian "Авиалинии Антонова" at the world market of cargo transportation. They plan to finish assembly (with some modifications) and start commercial flights of the second An-225. Primary customers are expected to be aerospace industries of USA and Europe, but such an unconventional loads as yachts and locomotives are in consideration as well.
During its 'first life' (1988-1994) An-225 established 110 World Records. Rebuilt plane already made this number 127 (not to forget 214 national records)... On September 11 2001 it lifted four main battle tanks (253,820kg) to 2000m, and demonstrated horizontal speed 762km/h.
|An-225-100 civil heavy-lift cargo plane||Carrier for high seas SAR "Spasatel" or "Orlionok" WIG craft||Platform for Aerial Launch program (satellites up to 5.5tons)||Launch platform for MAKS or Interim HOTOL||Passenger 3-floor 1st+ class 330-seater|