The Soviet-era Antonov An-225 Mriya, the world’s heaviest aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 640,000 kilograms, tarried a bit at the Royal Air Force (RAF) base in Brize Norton after breaking a perimeter fence.
The latest development made headlines on June 24, 2021, after the Russian “Dream” had made a stopover at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport. It was reportedly carrying military cargo from Afghanistan as US and NATO forces pull out of the war-torn country.
The massive aircraft unloaded the three RAF Puma helicopters and on its way back, its six turbofan engines reportedly “broke the fence where several photographers and cameramen were taking shots”, according to The Aviationist.
It is not immediately known if any onlooker standing near the fence suffered injuries from the jet blast.
A YouTube video of over four minutes is being made available by Aviation Highlights.
The An-225 Mriya is a six-engine strategic cargo aircraft manufactured by the Antonov Design Bureau (ADB) of Ukraine. It has a cruise speed of 800 Km/h and a payload capacity of 250,000 Kg.
The plane has the longest wingspan of 88.4 meters, a height of 18.2 meters, and a take-off weight of 1,410,958 pounds, according to reports.
The 31-year-old An-225 is the heaviest plane in the world and the only one with six turbofan engines.
— Nicola Neyhaul (@NicolaNeyhaul) June 24, 2021
The Cossack (NATO reporting name) can execute both military and civil operations even in the worst weather conditions. It is characterized by an airborne cargo handling system and a cargo door fitted with a ramp to carry out loading and unloading missions easily.
Based on Antonov’s AN-124 design, the An-225 features fuselage barrel extension on the front and rear of the wings to increase the span. An-224 is the variant of the An-225 Mriya.
The aircraft’s twin tail arrangement allows the aircraft to carry large, heavy external loads, otherwise difficult for the aircraft with a conventional tail. It is fitted with a 32-wheel landing gear system.
The strategic cargo aircraft has resumed its operations after a hiatus in August 2020. It was built during the Soviet era in the 1980s to transport the Soviet ‘Buran’ space-shuttle and ‘Energia’ rocket boosters. It made its maiden flight in 1988 and reportedly set about 110 world records.
Following the allegations of technical snags, the AN-225 was revived in the early 2000s. According to Antonov Airlines, the plane has flown across the globe, “carrying cargoes such as electrical transformers and mobile power generators”.
It also continues to support worldwide peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. On humanitarian grounds, the aircraft transported wind turbine blades, battle tanks, tons of ready-to-eat meals for the American military personnel when it undertook the first commercial flight in 2002 from Stuttgart to Oman.
The Antonov Design Bureau has extended the services of the AN-225 until at least 2033.
Written by Kanika Sachdeva