by Elco B
Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 01:39:02 PM EST
As suggested by Soj in a previous diary, a short story about the Ukrainian-Russian "Mriya" (Dream) An-225. This is the largest plane ever built in the world measered by lift capacity : 250 tonnes ! The Antonov-125 takes 170, the Airbus 380(freighter) 150 and the C5-Galaxy 120 tonnes up in the air.
History: the origins of the An-225 dates back to 1976 when the Sovjet Union launched his space-program: the Buran (snowstorm). In analogy with the US space shuttles the Russians would do the same, only bigger.
So they needed a plane big enough to transport the Buran-shuttle. The Antonov design-bureau took the already existing An-124 as base, and the result was the An-225.
The Buran space-program was very succesfull (test-flights with scale models, and unmanned schuttle). The "Mriya" flew for the first time in 1988 and set 106 world-records in one flight. In 1989 the Russians came to the Paris-airshow with the Buran attached : very impressive.
But in 1989 the Soviet Union collapsed : this was the end of the Buran and also the An-225 (only one was built) was grounded and remainded in storage until 2000. By that year the Ukrainian Antonovs 124 where in high demand all over the world for their capacity's of lifting oversized and heavy weight cargo. The sleeping giant was modernised and entered service in 2001.
How big is big ?
In september 2001 , carrying a record load of 253.82 tonnes of cargo, the AN-225 flew at an altitude of two kilometers (1.243 miles) over a closed circuit of 1000 km at a speed of 763.2 km/h (474.23mph). The certificate confirms 124 separate FAI(Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) world records were broken during the flight.
Construction of a second An-225 had also begun during the 1980s but was stopped in 1994. Should operations with the existing An-225 prove profitable enough, it is possible that the second aircraft could be completed for service, though it seems unlikely.
There are a huge number of figures and facts about the An-225, but here I give only some to give an idea :
- The first flight in commercial service departed from Stuttgart, Germany on January 3, 2002, flying to Thumrait, Oman with 216,000 prepared meals for American military personnel based in the region. This vast quantity of ready meals was transported on some 375 pallets and weighed a total of 187.5 tons.
- Average size houses could fit inside its body.
- It takes 300 tonnes of fuel to fill up.
- 80 mid-sized cars fit in the cargo space.
- Ironical , the biggest client for the plane is the US-military : they have lots of big stuff to fly all over the world.
- Dec. 10th 2002, the An-225, loaded with 80,000 Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts, departed JFK International Airport, bound for Entebbe, Uganda .
- In october 2005 the plane took 500 tents, 500 heaters, 5000 blankets, one hospital-tent of 180 square meters and some other material in one flifgt from Eindhoven (The Netherlands) to Pakistan for the earthquake victims.