Equipped with six engines and 16 pairs of landing gear wheels, the Antonov An-225 Mriya is the undisputed largest cargo aircraft in the world.
The cargo aircraft—full of medical supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic—touched down in Warsaw, Poland.
The American Journal of Transportation reports the aircraft departed from Tianjin China Airport on April 13th, stopping in Almaty Airport, Kazakhstan, for refueling and to allow the crew to rest.
“The aircraft was loaded with about 100 tonnes of medicines, tests for laboratory analysis, medical masks, and other protective equipment, with a total load of about 1000 m3. In the history of aviation, this cargo volume has never been transported inside the cargo hold of the aircraft.”
According to Antonov Airlines, the operator of the An-225, the big jet has an internal cargo volume of 1,200 cubic meters, or 42,377 cubic feet. The An-225 is also capable of lifting a maximum 551,155 pounds, or 275 tons.
Poland’s order of medical supplies from China weighs a total of 200 tons but is light enough it occupies significant volume, so the shipment is being split into two AN-225 flights of one hundred tons each.
There, it took more than fifteen hours to fill the cargo hold of Mriya (UR-82060) with medical supplies, including 7 million masks, according to the Polish company KGHM, which chartered the aircraft. With a MTOW of 600 metric tons and a hold volume of 1,300 cubic meters, the unique plane is the perfect asset for such relief efforts.
With another stopover in Almaty, Mriya eventually landed in Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW), Poland, on April 14, 2020.
That new mission was the first flight for the An-225 since the end of a two-year modernization campaign. The first test flight was completed as recently as March 25, 2020.
The An-225 was originally designed by the Soviet Union to transport the country’s Buran space shuttle, an upgrade from the superpower’s VMT Atlant transport plane. The Buran never reached operational status, and after the dissolution of the USSR, the sole complete An-225 was transferred to Ukraine, where the aircraft was originally built. Mriya was the world’s largest aircraft until the recent completion of Scaled Composites’ Stratolaunch jet.