May 25, 2024

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AN-225: Confirmation of plans to rebuild the world's largest aircraft

AN-225: Confirmation of plans to rebuild the world’s largest aircraft

(CNN) – For the beneficiaries, the destruction of the world’s largest commercial airliner was one of the main images at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In February, an Antonov AN-225 was attacked at its base in Hostomil, near Kyiv.

Now it appears they have kept their promises, as the company has announced that plans to rebuild it are already underway.

Nicknamed “Mriya” – Ukrainian meaning “dream” – the giant plane was built in the 1980s to carry the Soviet space shuttle.

Its later life, though a little less glamorous, was equally imaginative – it was the largest cargo carrier in the world, with about twice the storage capacity of a Boeing 747, and earned a cult status among the associates themselves. It stretched to 84 meters, or 275 feet, with the longest wingspan of any fully operational aircraft. To date, it is the heaviest aircraft ever built.

The nose of the plane was hit directly, according to CNN journalist Vasco Coutvio, who saw it in April.

Jacques Guise/AFP/Getty Images

Its destruction was announced on February 27, 2022, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Twitter that “Russia may have destroyed our Maria…but they will not be able to destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state.”

Antonov said at the time that it was unable to verify the condition of the aircraft, while CNN journalist Vasco Kotovio noted that the nose appeared to have been “directly shelled” and “completely destroyed” when he saw it in April. visit.

“There was extensive damage to the wings and some of the engines. The rear of the tail has survived any major shocks and has a few punctures from either shrapnel or bullets,” he said at the time, predicting that a repair would be unlikely. .

However, Antonov announced on Monday in a tweet that the reconstruction project has been completed Already started, with Design Works in the near future. While it estimated repair costs, the company projected a bill of more than 500 million euros ($502 million) to get it back in the air, and promised more information “after the victory.”

The company has already announced that it has about 30% of the components needed to build a new one.

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Originally, the Ukrainian state defense company Ukroboronprom, which operates Antonov, issued a statement estimating the restoration at more than $3 billion — which it pledged to pay Russia. She said at the time that rebuilding would take at least five years.

The company said the rebuilding would cost more than $502 million.

The company said the rebuilding would cost more than $502 million.

Matthews and Lodarczyk/NoorPhoto/Getty Images

The announcement coincides with the launch of an exhibition dedicated to the aircraft at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Germany, which is home to five other Antonov aircraft. Light and Shadow: The Antonov Story features images of the plane before and after its destruction, emphasizing the engineering prowess it lost when it was attacked. It will be on display until the end of December.

At the opening, Oleksiy Mikheev, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, declared that although he had flown “almost all AN aircraft, Mriya remained a dream for me,” in a statement issued by the company.

“We hope it will be restored and we will see this mighty bird in the sky again,” he added.

Meanwhile, if you’re missing Mriya, you can build your own model – or at least your own. Ukrainian startup Metal Time Sells AN-225 working mechanical design kits. Each cost $99, and the profits go directly to Antonov to finance the rebuilding of Mriya, as well as rehousing Antonov employees whose homes were destroyed by the Russian invasion, and training new Ukrainian pilots and flight engineers.

Jacobo Brisco and Jack Jay contributed to this report