20 February 2016 © David Eyre (UPDATED 23 March 2016, 8 April 2016 and 23 April 2016)
The mighty six-engined Antonov An-225 Mriya (‘Dream’), is to visit Perth on 15 May 2016, arriving staying for three days – dates and times (SUBJECT TO CHANGE):
Sun 15 May 2016: Arriving 10.00AM
Wed 18 May 2016: Departing 6:00AM
FlightRadar24.com has a preliminary route and schedule of stops (NOTE: Times are UTC – add 8 hours to get Perth time. Schedule and route are subject to change).
The An-225 is the longest and heaviest aircraft ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes, and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service. It was designed and developed in the 1980s as a derivative of the An-124, to carry the Russian ‘Buran’ space shuttle above the fuselage.
The flight was arranged by the Australian arm of the international transport and logistics company DB Schenker, which has a extensive experience in handling challenging and difficult shipments for some of the world’s largest resources projects.The company employs 990 people in Australia and 65,000 employees in 130 countries around the world.
“Organising airfreight via an Antonov 225 is a particular highlight because it’s a unique challenge with a very special aircraft”, says Frank Vogel, Director – Projects / Oil and Gas, AU / NZ, DB Schenker.
The aircraft will be delivering an ultra-heavy 117-Tonne power generator for a mining company, flying from Prague in the Czech Republic, with several refuelling stops en-route across Eurasia and South East Asia before it finally reaches Perth.
The Project Management and execution of this challenging shipment will be handled by DB Schenker’s Adelaide and Perth Offices, working in conjunction with the supplier in Europe and the Western Australian site to ensure a safe and smooth delivery of the equipment.
Design and differences to the An-124
Registered UR-82060 and owned by Antonov Airlines (Antonov Design Bureau), the An-225 was designed and built by the Antonov Design Bureau in the 1980s, when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. It is the only flying example.
The An-225 is reportedly expensive to operate – it is reportedly cheaper to use two An-124s than make one flight with the An-225, so it is only used to transport extremely large and heavy cargo loads that cannot be carried by the An-124.
The An-225 was developed by enlarging the An-124 – fuselage barrel extensions were added in front of and behind the wings, which were also enlarged to increase span. Two more Progress D-18T turbofan engines were added to the larger wing, bringing the total to six. Stronger landing gear with 32 wheels was added, and some of these wheels can be steered to enable the massive aircraft to turn within a 60-metre wide runway. It is not designed for short runway operations.
It also differs to the smaller An-124 by not having a rear cargo door and ramp – these were deleted to reduce weight. The tail was redesigned from a single vertical fin to have twin tails on a widened tailplane – this was necessary to allow the aircraft to carry outsized loads externally, such as the Russian Buran space shuttle.
Construction of a second An-225 was started in the late 1980s, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union and due to lack of funds, construction ceased in 1994 and it was placed in storage at Kiev.
In September 2006, Antonov announced that it would complete the second An-225 by 2008, but this was then delayed.
By August 2009, the aircraft was about 60-70% complete when work was stopped due to lack of funds. Completion requires at least $300 million and three years.
In April 2013, the Russian government announced plans to revive air launched spacecraft, using a modified An-225 as a mid-air launchpad, but the Ukraine/Russian conflict seems to have ended these plans.
Antonov had plans to build an even larger An-325 with eight engines, but this did not make it off the drawing board.
Antonov An-225 Specifications
|Crew: 6||Empty weight: (zero-fuel-weight) 175 tonnes|
|Length: 84 m||Max take-off weight: 600 tonnes|
|Wingspan: 88.4 m||Cargo hold – volume 1,225 cbm (L 43.35m, W 6.4m, H 4.4m)|
|Height: 18.1 m||Power plant: 6 × ZMKB Progress D-18 turbofans, 229.5 kNeach|
|Wing Area: 905 sq m||Flight range with 200 tonne payload: 4,000 km|
History of UR-82060
Completed on 21 December 1988 at Gostomel, Ukraine, registered CCCP-480182.
Displayed at the Paris Air Show in June 1989, now registered CCCP-82060, carrying the 60-tonne Buran space shuttle on top.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was given the Ukrainian registration UR-82060 in 1993.
As the Russian Buran space shuttle program was cancelled, the An-225 was withdrawn from use in April 1994, with a total flying time of 671 hours and 339 flights. It was stripped of spare parts for use on Antonov Airlines’ An-124 fleet – the six engines were removed for use on An-124s.
Antonov realised that there was a need for an aircraft capable of carrying larger and heavier loads than the An-124. UR-82060 was refurbished in 2000 at a cost of $20 million, with a new cockpit, avionics and safety systems, new passenger cabin on the upper deck, reinforced fuselage to carry heavier payloads and Stage III hush kits on the engines. It made its first flight on 7 May 2001, after 7 years on the ground.
UR-82060 holds the absolute world records for an airlifted single item payload of 189,980 kilograms (418,834 pounds) and an airlifted total payload of 253,820 kilograms (559,577 pounds). It has also transported a payload of 247,000 kilograms (545,000 pounds) on a commercial flight.