One year after An-225 was destroyed during the early phases of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the largest cargo aircraft in the world—the Antonov Mriya plane—has returned to the skies once more, but in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
On February 27, 2023, a new downloadable content (DLC) was made available that lets virtual pilots take on the unique challenge of controlling this enormous aircraft while also helping to bring it back to life.
Several classic aircraft have already been resurrected in the game’s virtual sky. But in this instance, every penny from the $19.99 freeware add-on goes toward the Antonov Company’s reconstruction efforts to rebuild the aircraft.
With exact flight dynamics and navigational systems, the digital simulation of the Antonov An-225 Mriya includes high-resolution virtual models of the cockpit, interior, and exterior aircraft.
Six liveries, including an Xbox Aviators Club, are available for the Antonov AN-225 Mriya in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
For $19.99, the add-on is currently offered in the Microsoft Flight Simulator in-game store for PC users. It will be accessible for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox Cloud Gaming users beginning in late March.
The famous flight simulator game underwent a major revamp in 2020 and returned with an ultra-realistic landscape digitally created from satellite imagery. It recently marked its 40th anniversary in November 2022.
Pilots in the game can explore the entire world while flying over 1.5 billion structures, 2 million cities, and more than 37,000 airports. The program includes real-time weather information, including wind speed and direction, temperature, lighting, humidity, and rain.
Pilots can test their abilities in a wide range of aircraft, from small planes to commercial jets, and customized instrument guidance and checklists are provided for each kind of aircraft. An Antonov official told AeroTime that Antonov actively contributed to the digital recreation of the An-225.
“The specialists had the opportunity to visit [chief pilot Dmytro] Antonov and several other Antonov pilots in Leipzig, where they flew the digital re-creation in Microsoft Flight Simulator. They made many useful remarks that helped the final polish of the aircraft,” the official added.
For audio, Antonov provided the original recordings of the An-225, and game creators were permitted to record the An-124, which has an identical engine. The Progress D-18T turbofan, produced by the Ukrainian engine manufacturer Motor Sich, powers the An-225 Mriya and the An-124 Ruslan.
The Unfortunate End Of An-225 Mriya
The Soviet space program led to the development of the An-225 Mriya, which translates to “Dream” in Ukrainian, to transport the Buran space shuttle and heavy rocket components.
The aircraft took flight for the first time in 1988. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tons and is supported by six engines and 32 tires. It is the largest flying machine ever built.
The aircraft was housed at Hostomel Airport, the facility of Antonov Airlines, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. The airport, which is 30 kilometers from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was one of the Russian force’s first targets.
Russian paratroopers tried to set up a foothold at the airport so that more forces could be flown in but failed. Mriya sustained extensive damage during the struggle for Hostomel’s control.
Before the conflict, the serial plant of Antonov Corporation in Kyiv housed a second incomplete An-225 airframe that was initially planned for ground testing. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
On March 24, 2022, Sergii Bychkov, CEO of Antonov, announced the start of a fundraising campaign to reconstruct the An-225 Mriya aircraft.
The manufacturer acknowledged that design work had started in November 2022.
Antonov General Designer Vladislav Vlasik informed the Ukrainian daily news program TSN that the repair of the Mriya will mostly rely on the unfinished airframe. However, efforts are being made to salvage components from the wrecked aircraft.
Ukroboronprom, the parent business of Antonov and a state-owned conglomerate in Ukraine, predicted that repairing the Antonov An-225 Mriya would cost more than $3 billion. Furthermore, it will take more than five years.
After the invasion, Antonov has been using the German airport of Leipzig to fly An-124 freighters. The organization is also working on renovating Hostomel Airport.