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Special planes : The Antonov-225 "Mriya".

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.

                   

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Thanks for another great plane diary!  I really enjoy these.

The size comparison between the An-225, the 747-400 and the A380-800 is interesting.  Just out of curiosity, I know you mentioned the payload comparison, but how does the C-5 Galaxy compare sizewise?  Because the C-5 is a plane I'm oddly familiar with, and this crash last week reminded me of the it...

When I was a teenager, the C-5s used to land for a couple weeks a year at the (large) airport near my house, when migrating birds chased them away from their usual base at Dover.  They are freakin' huge, I still remember the way the windows would rattle.  Living next to an airport, you get used to big planes flying over all the time, I don't even hear them most of the time, but those suckers were different.  There was no ignoring them.

I don't really understand how this happens without killing anyone...


... but one guy in the article says the sheer size of the plane is one of the things that protected the passengers and crew from a worse fate.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 05:08:16 PM EST
The C5-Galaxy:
Wingspan: 222.9 feet (67.89 meters)
Length: 247.1 feet (75.3 meters)
Height: 65.1 feet (19.84 meters)

Antonov-225:
Wingspan 290 ft (88.4m),
lenght -- 84,00m,
height -- 18,10m.

Yes That C5-crash is remarkable..
On Jan 8 2004 a C5 was hit above Bagdad by a rocket:the no. 4 engine was reportedly hit by a surface-to-air missile. The crew reported excessive engine vibrations and declared an emergency. The plane returned to the airport and landed safely.



The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 05:28:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this! I remember being awed when the first photos appeared in newspapers of this giant. And yes, the Buran was superior to the Space Shuttle, sad thing it was dropped in the Yeltsin era.

BTW, a bit off-topic, I just read:

The European Aviation and Safety Agency (EASA) and the American Federal Aviation Administration, FAA gave their "seal of approval" to the successful A380 evacuation trial performed at Airbus' site in Hamburg, Germany, on Sunday, 26th March, during which 853 passengers and 20 crew members left the aircraft within 78 seconds. They herewith validated 853 as the maximum passenger seating capacity, for the A380-800.

As per regulation, the evacuation test was performed in complete darkness through only half of the 16 exits of the A380. The exits that had been selected by the Authorities to be operative were not known to any of the passengers and crew before the test.

...The evacuation test was the most stringent ever performed...

Impressive.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 03:54:06 AM EST
The evacution test of the A-380 was less succesful as Airbus describes : 30 persons injured, a woman broke a leg and some technical details failed.But overall it was good enough for the 'seal of approval'.

When I was a kid, my father took me to many airshows.
I kept the fascination for flying things over the years.

But moraly it became harder, especialy since most planes and the tecnology involved are military. I could do diary's about modern military planes like the Eurofighter, the Rafale, the Viggen, the JSF,Hawk,the variants of the Mig and Sukhoi and many others.

There is a fascinating world of communication, radar, navigation an weaponsystems involved.
The Russians proved their technology was in many fields superior to the rest of the world, yesterday the Soyoez  returned safely from a mission to the International Space Station.

Today we see the European country's developing newer and more advenced flying systems like the A400M I describe in this diary. The EU doesn't spend as many resources as the US on this developements, but still it is about huge amounts of money and other resources for facilities, training people and so on.

Belgium has 45 updated , state of the art F-16 supersonic jet fighters. They fly in 17 minutes from the coast to the German border, which is the longest possible distance in Belgium in one straight line. This is ridiculous. They are also capable to drop atomic-bombs of wich several are stored in a US-base in Belgium. This situation doesn't make me feel safe at all.

On ET the main topics are about economics and the policies behind . Military spending is part of it and exposes true meanings of policies. Maybe I should start a diary about this.

 

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 06:38:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The evacution test of the A-380 was less succesful as Airbus describes : 30 persons injured, a woman broke a leg and some technical details failed.

Could you post or link more details?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 09:15:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Volunteers injured in A380 drill

One man broke his leg and another 32 people suffered minor injuries during an emergency evacuation drill of the new A380 superjumbo in Germany.

Plane owner Airbus said the exercise - a key step which the A380 must take to prove its airworthiness - was a "great success" despite the injuries.

About 850 passengers and 20 crew were evacuated from the plane in 80 seconds.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 09:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The test took place on 26/03 in Hamburg/Germany.
The first news about te test came from Reuters :
European plane maker Airbus said on Sunday it had interrupted an evacuation test for its new A380 double-decker plane after an incident in which several people were injured as an evacuation slide dis-inflated.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 10:23:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi DoDo, Elco B & all !

This is my first post here, so I wanted first to tell you how much I enjoy this place in general, and specifically the "technological" diaries (planes, trains, clocks).

DoDo, you'll find actual stories of people who did participate in this test at flightglobal.com :

http://www.flightglobal.com/Articles/2006/04/06/Navigation/179/205793/Airbus+A380+evacuation+trial+f ull+report+everyone+off+in.html

by balbuz on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 02:07:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi balbuz!  Welcome to ET.

Good link!  Thanks for sharing that.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 02:24:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to ET balbuz, thanks for the link.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 02:33:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thirded!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 05:27:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you ever see an infrared movie of one of these evacuations you'll see how contrived the whole situation is. First, take a bunch of Highly Motivated, young, athletic flight attendants. Dress them in running shoes and shorts. Clear all obstacles (no reclined seats, or tray tables, or blankets, or laptop computers, or fat old blind people allowed. Then rehearse a few times to get the sequencing of the moves right.

Then, on a signal, the athletic young weightlifter at the window quickly takes out the door and throws it away, while the participants literally RUN down the aisle and jump unhesitantly into the chute or onto the wing.

It is a total fiction, and it is not surprizing that there were a few injuries.

by asdf on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 07:39:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Read the linked account - this one was nothing like what you described.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 09:15:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are correct. That's not how it was done in the movies I've seen in the past.
by asdf on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 11:14:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I love this series. The weekend edition of ET is an increasing delight for me, with your diaries on planes and dmun's series on clocks.

But this... I'm in constant shock-and-awe with your diary. And as you wrote in your comment on the entanglement of military planes and commerical air planes, I'd be extremely intersted in your take on the militare planes (Eurofighter, JSF, Mig, Rafale, etc.) after you've wrapped up this series.

BTW, this being a subject totally new for me (again), would it be possible for you to list your previous series with links at the end of a diary, similar to what dmun, DoDo and others do? I'm starting to lose track of the serial codes, but it helps when I see the picture of the plane you mean. (I'm a visually orientated person.)

by Nomad on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 06:32:10 AM EST
OK, I'm preparing a visual link-page: come and see next week-end :)

As I mentioned in a comment above, I'm hesitating to write diary's about military planes. I have seen most of those planes flying and on static shows, even prototypes of the latest types. I was in the cockpit of some of them. On my computer I have professional flight-simulation programs, and even a joystick of 3Kg wich is a replica of the real F-16 stick. It is a fascinating world : I learned about aerodynamics, pneumatics, hydrolics, electronics, navigation, radar, Infra Red, ILS, FLIR, TCAS .... and lots more.
But at the end : its about a weaponsystem, a thing to kill, or drop super-killers like nuclear bombs. Maybe, after Bush has finished his wars , the next one will be fought again with stones.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 09:12:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...to wiki for your grandchildren to enjoy your work, too! :)

I understand your hesitation on "glorifying" killing machines, although your thoughts on the spending of the military and the policies behind it about which you briefly muse would be a fascinating read as well, I'm sure.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 09:34:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm hesitating to write diary's about military planes .../... It is a fascinating world

I understand. What - sometimes - fascinates me is the human genius behind the machine - whatever the machine purpose is. A bombers' purpose is absolutely unacceptable, and still a bomber can be a beautiful piece of machinery.
Witness this British Victor :
http://www.drivearchive.co.uk/xplanes/vbombers/victorcos1.jpg

by balbuz on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 12:38:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is interesting to contrast this modern super-giant plane with the one that Howard Hughes constructed over 60 years ago, the Spruce Goose.

Wingspan:
Antonov 225: 88.4
Spruce Goose: 97.5

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spruce_Goose

by asdf on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 07:45:12 PM EST
BTW, I haven't seen the film yet nor have I read up much on this plane; but could you tell me whether there were any technical/practical problems with it, or was it only grounded after the test flight because of intrigues?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Apr 11th, 2006 at 08:31:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes there were technical/practical problems with it, and probably intrigues.
But I think the real reason was WW II was over, there was no need anymore for such a giant plane and budgets were needed elswhere.
But lots of opinions exists :

Why did Hughes never fly the plane again? Some said he was afraid to, but his closest associates denied it. The more likely explanation is that there was no reason to continue. The war was long over. The need for big seaplanes had evaporated. Wood construction was obviously a dead end. Even before the flight Hughes admitted that the plane was too large to be economical. Claiming there were still research lessons to be learned, he stubbornly kept the work going until around 1952.


Was the Spruce Goose an impractical boondoggle? Absolutely. Was it completely off the wall? No. The plane was flyable--no small point. In fact, in 1977 the U.S. Navy seriously considered test flights with the H-4 as part of research into low-altitude transoceanic flight. Didn't happen, which is probably just as well. But one thing you have to give Howard Hughes: he may have been crazy, but he was no fool


The Spruce Goose was intended to carry up to 750 fully equipped troops, or two Sherman class tanks . Hughes and his team had broken ground in the development of this plane, that they did it in wood is even more remarkable. Though the project finished behind schedule....they were ahead of their time!


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Tue Apr 11th, 2006 at 10:03:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We need diaries about the most exterme planes. Apparently, the heaviest things to have 'flown' ever were those Soviet Ekranoplans :

I had the privilege myself of navigating the Volga on an hydrofoil ('raketta' in Russian), a very impressive machine on regular service, up to this day.

by balbuz on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 04:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Could you write a diary about those 'raketta'?

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 04:36:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What am I getting myself into ! :)

Depends what is the level of accuracy/expertise/completeness required...

My whole expertise on the subject is a couple of stories I could write up combined with a good Internet connection to do some research !

by balbuz on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 05:21:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
9 still active Soviet-made hydrofoils conduct a regular Vienna-Bratislava-Budapest service on the Danube - now you can also rent them. Data of the three types in use and photos in the second link in English, or in Hungarian but with more detail from here; below direct links and photos for the youngest ship in each class:

The 44-seat Bíbic IV:

The 62-seat Vöcsök IV:

The 104-seat Sólyom III:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 05:49:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, all of the Bíbics and the last Sólyom were made after the collapse of the Soviet Union in Russia.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 05:53:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tons of info at riverships.ru, but I prefer not to link directly the images, to save their bandwidth :
http://www.riverships.ru/english/types/?grp=3

It seems they are (still?) running them in the Netherlands and in Canada.

I sailed - or flew - them in the Caribbean, in Saint Petersburg (not Florida !) and on the Volga.

by balbuz on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 06:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently, the heaviest things to have 'flown' ever were those Soviet Ekranoplans

Not anymore: the KM could take off with 540 (metric) tons, but the An-225 beat it in that 2001 flight with 600 tons, and the Airbus A-380 also beat it at 560 tons MTOW (though maybe Elco B can tell whether this has been actually achieved in the test flights so far). The A380 freighter version will have 590 MTOW (but only a cargo of 150 tons - nowhere near as economic as the Mriya).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 06:33:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first testflight of the A-380 on 27/04/2005 in Toulouse had a take-off weight of 480 tons. The plane is designed for a MTOW of 560 tonnes.  Safety demands a plane structure that remains intact at a 150% loadfactor(which can occur during flight, steep dive.....).  The static test for that purpose was succesfull , albeit there was a 3% miscalculation by the designers.  In that test , the wing-tips wer moved-up (hydraulically) more than 7 (seven) meters befor the first crack occured.
Testlights with 5 planes are ongoing, I do not now yet what was so far the maximum take off weight. Tests abraod for handling the big machine on airfields have been done with about 420 tonnes TOW. Max landing weight is 380 tonnes.

I have a super nice film here : How to build a A-380 in seven minutes!

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 08:20:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Elco, incredible clip !

You owe it to yourself to visit the Airbus assembly halls in Toulouse. They have a "portes ouvertes" day. The size of these halls is such that from high up in the public area you just see motionless monsters, hardly any human activity, just here and there ant-like creatures going about their business. Quite impressive.

Makes one proud to be an European...

by balbuz on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 08:59:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cool video! Combining the best in European industrial propaganda ;-)

The A380 flew more than hundred (or is it already hundreds?) of test-flights, so that could long have included MTOW flights.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Apr 12th, 2006 at 12:00:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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