In recent days, the world has watched in amazement at the war between Russia and Ukraine. After the civilian and military casualties, another important issue that came to the world’s attention was the declared destruction of an icon: the largest commercial aircraft in the world, the Antonov An-225 Mriya (“dream” in Ukrainian).
The extent of damage that Mriya suffered is not yet known, but Ukrainian officials have already taken the news of the aircraft’s demise for granted. Satellite photos also proliferated on social media showing the destruction of part of the hangar that “protected” the An-225, with the plane itself being a possible “victim” of the Russian assault.
However, if today there is (or existed) only one Antonov An-225 Mriya, that was not the original idea , but there should have been two identical examples, which would support the Soviet Space Program, transporting components during the Cold War and even , carrying the Buran space shuttle on “on its back”.
Why is there only one Antonov An-225?
Few people know that a second An-225 has begun to be built. However, with the end of the Cold War, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the changes in the ambitions of the Eastern European countries, the project was interrupted and the second An-225 became even just a “dream”.
The massive metal casing, whose construction is said to be 70% complete, Antonov revealed , was placed inside a massive building at the airport outside Kiev and stayed there for decades. Even though it was possible to finish it, there was never any interest in the costs involved, which can exceed US$ 500 million, counting on a necessary update in the project and the completion of the assembly.
Another factor that contributed to the stoppage of the second unit was the idea that it would be useless, since the first example of the model took care of its new role as an ultra-large cargo plane.
In 2016, China even signed an agreement with Antonov to restart production of the second plane, which was supposed to be completed by 2019, but then the attempt failed, again for cost-effectiveness. Turkey also showed interest, which remained only in the field of ideas.
And so it was until the world reached 2022, in the midst of a pandemic, a war arises that, in turn, results in damage to one of the most emblematic planes that have ever flown in the world.
The cult of the giant
Due to its design and size, the Mriya fascinates plane lovers who often flock to see it land and take off during commercial flights around the world.
He has been to Brazil twice, in 2007 and in 2016. On his last visit, with the dissemination of information by AEROIN and social networks, hundreds of people took notice and went to see him in person at the airports of Campinas and Guarulhos . Airport administrators broadcast the event live over the internet.
Regardless of its current state, the Mriya remains the heaviest aircraft ever built, with a length of 84 meters, a wingspan of 88 meters, and a maximum payload weight of 250 tons.