The Largest Airplane Ever Built
The Antonov An-225 Mriya is a cargo aircraft that was designed by the Soviet Union’s Antonov Design Bureau in the 1980s. It is powered by six turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes. It also has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service. Only one An-225 was ever built and the behemoth transporter is still in service today.
Photograph above by Vasiliy Koba
Photograph by Sergey Khantsis
The first and only An-225 was completed in 1988 after four years of construction. The An-225 first flew on 21 December 1988 with a 74-minute flight from Kiev. The Antonov An-225 was originally designed to airlift the Energia rocket’s boosters and the Buran space shuttle for the Soviet space program.
After successfully fulfilling its Soviet military missions, it was mothballed for eight years. It was then refurbished and re-introduced, and is in commercial operation with Antonov Airlines carrying oversized payloads. An increased-capacity landing gear system with 32 wheels was designed, some of which are steerable, enabling the aircraft to turn within a 60 m (200 ft) wide runway. [source]
Photograph by U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Jason Tudor
Photograph by SSGT SHANE CUOMO, USAF
The pressurized cargo hold is 1,300 m3 (46,000 cu ft) in volume; 6.4 m (21 ft) wide, 4.4 m (14 ft) high, and 43.35 m (142.2 ft) long—longer than the first flight of the Wright Flyer. The airlifter holds the absolute world records for an airlifted single item payload of 189,980 kilograms (418,834 pounds), and an airlifted total payload of 253,820 kilograms (559,577 pounds). It has also transported a payload of 247,000 kilograms (545,000 pounds) on a commercial flight. [source]
Photograph by Dmitry A. Mottl
The An-225 has since become the workhorse of the Antonov Airlines fleet, transporting objects once thought impossible to move by air, such as locomotives and 150-tonne generators. It has become an asset to international relief organizations for its ability to quickly transport huge quantities of emergency supplies during disaster relief operations. [source]
Photograph by Ralf Manteufel
Mriya has set up 240 world records including transportation of the heaviest cargo with mass of 253 tons, the heaviest single piece of cargo with mass of 186.7 t as well as the longest cargo having length of 42.1 meters (138 ft).
On 11 August 2009, the heaviest single cargo item ever sent via air freight was loaded onto the Antonov 225. At 16.23 metres (53.2 ft) long and 4.27 metres (14.0 ft) wide, its consignment, a generator for a gas power plant in Armenia along with its loading frame, weighed in at a record 189 tonnes (417,000 lb).
On 11 June 2010, the An-225 carried the world’s longest piece of air cargo, when it flew two new 42-meter test wind turbine blades from Tianjin, China to Skrydstrup, Denmark.
Photograph by Anthony Noble
Length: 84 m (275 ft 7 in)
Wingspan: 88.4 m (290 ft 0 in)
Height: 18.1 m (59 ft 5 in)
Wing area: 905 m2 (9,740 sq ft)
Aspect ratio: 8.6
Empty weight: 285,000 kg (628,317 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 640,000 kg (1,410,958 lb)
Fuel capacity: 300,000 kg
Cargo hold – volume 1,300m3, length 43.35m, width 6.4m, height 4.4m
Powerplant: 6 × ZMKB Progress D-18 turbofans, 229.5 kN (51,600 lbf) thrust each
Graphic by Clem Tillier
Maximum speed: 850 km/h (528 mph; 459 kn)
Cruising speed: 800 km/h (497 mph; 432 kn)
Range: 15,400 km (9,569 mi; 8,315 nmi) with maximum fuel; range with maximum payload: 4,000 km (2,500 mi)
Service ceiling: 11,000 m (36,089 ft)
Wing loading: 662.9 kg/m2 (135.8 lb/sq ft)
Photograph by Dmitry A. Mottl