There are many reasons why the An-225 is unique. Nicknamed «Mriya», which means dream in Ukrainian, only one aircraft was actually produced. It spans 292ft wide for 275ft long and is without contest the biggest plane in service today. The hold is big enough to park 50 cars in it. Other unique features are the high mounted wings, the tail that looks more like another wing, the six engines as well as the 32 wheels, not to mention the two parallel landing gears.
Designed as a freight plane, the An-225 can carry up to 250 tonnes for a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 640 tonnes. Loading and off–loading are carried out via the nose that lifts up. But that’s not all the An-225 can carry. The Russian spacecraft Buran has piggybacked on it 14 times by using the two humps to steady the shuttle.
That could have been the end of the story but on the 30th of August, the Ukrainian and Chinese aircraft manufacturers Antonov and the AICC (Aerospace Industry Corporation of China) signed a cooperation agreement. As a result, Antonov will build one aircraft in Kiev and deliver it to China. After that, more aircraft will follow but this time round they’ll be produced in China under licence from Antonov. For the moment, no more details are available but for the An-225, this is well and truly a rebirth, 28 years after its maiden flight.