Like a Phoenix, World's Largest Plane to Rise From Ashes

The Antonov AN-225, destroyed by Russia, will be rebuilt
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2022 3:25 PM CST
The World's Largest Plane Sits in Ruins—but Will Fly Again
Ukrainian soldiers stand at the remains of the Antonov AN-225, the world's biggest cargo aircraft, at the Antonov airport in Hostomel, outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 18, 2022.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

In the very first days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, an aviation marvel was destroyed: The Antonov AN-225 was the largest commercial plane in the world by both wingspan and weight, one built to transport Soviet space shuttles and one that can hold twice what a Boeing 747 can. As put it at the time, Russia "destroyed a 'large' part of its own space history": It's thought the plane sustained an artillery hit to its nose as it sat in an open-air hangar where it was being repaired at an airport northwest of Kyiv. But it will fly again, or so says the Antonov Company.

The plane's manufacturer this month announced that a $500 million construction effort had already started, and that it already had about a third of the parts, including main airframe units, it needs to rebuild the plane. Simple Flying shares some history, explaining the plane's first flight was in 1988, and while the Soviet Union had ordered two such planes, the USSR's fall put construction of the second plane on ice. While Antonov did intend to finish the second one, everything from delays to the economy to the pandemic worked against that outcome. Now, "the process of rebuilding 'Mriya'"—as the plane was nicknamed—"is considered as an international project, with the participation of aviation enterprises of different countries of the world," Antonov told CNN in an email. (More Ukraine stories.)

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