AN-225: Plans to rebuild world’s largest aircraft confirmed | Tech US News

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(CNN) – For avgeeks, the destruction of the world’s largest commercial airliner was one of the key images at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In February, the Antonov AN-225 was attacked at its base in Hostomel, near Kiev.

Now it looks like they’ve kept their word, with the company announcing that plans are already underway to rebuild it.

Nicknamed “Mriya” — Ukrainian for “dream” — the huge plane was built in the 1980s to carry the Soviet space shuttle.

Its later life, if a little less glamorous, was equally iconic: it was the world’s largest cargo carrier, with a hold capacity close to twice that of a Boeing 747, earning it cult status among self-styled avgeeks. It extended to 84 meters, or 275 feet, with the longest wingspan of any fully operational aircraft. To date, it is the heaviest aircraft ever built.

The plane's nose took a direct hit, according to CNN reporter Vasco Cotivio, who saw it in April.

The plane’s nose took a direct hit, according to CNN reporter Vasco Cotivio, who saw it in April.

Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Its destruction was announced on February 27, 2022, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. tweeting that “Russia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya’… but they will never be able to destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European State.”

The Antonov Company said at the time that it could not verify the plane’s condition, while CNN reporter Vasco Cotovio noted that the nose had apparently taken “a direct hit from artillery” and was “completely destroyed” when he saw it a month later of April visit

“There was extensive damage to the wings and some of the engines. The tail end section was spared major impacts and has some holes from shrapnel or bullets,” he said at the time, predicting a repair would be unlikely. .

On Monday, however, the Antonov company announced in a tweet that it had the reconstruction project already started, with “design work” already underway. Although it had estimated repair costs, the company predicted a bill of more than 500 million euros ($502 million) to get it back on the air, promising more information “after the victory.”

The company already has around 30% of the components needed to build a new one, he announced.

Originally, Ukrainian state defense company Ukroboronprom, which manages Antonov, issued a statement estimating the restoration at more than $3 billion, which it promised to make Russia pay. Reconstruction would take at least five years, he said at the time.

It will cost more than $502 million to rebuild, the company said.

It will cost more than $502 million to rebuild, the company said.

Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The announcement coincides with the launch of an exhibition dedicated to the aircraft at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Germany, which is home to five other Antonov aircraft. “Light and shadow: The Antonov story” shows photos of the plane before and after its destruction, focusing on the engineering prowess that was lost when it was attacked. It will be on display until the end of December.

At the opening, Oleksiy Makeiev, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, announced that although he had flown in “almost every AN aircraft, the Mriya was still a dream for me,” in a statement released by the company.

“We hope it will be restored and we will see this mighty bird in the sky again,” he added.

In the meantime, if you miss Mriya, you can build your own, or at least your own model. Ukrainian startup Metal Time is selling working mechanical design kits of the AN-225. Each one cost $99, and the profits go directly to Antonov to fund the reconstruction of Mriya, as well as the relocation of Antonov employees whose homes were destroyed by the Russian invasion and the training of new Ukrainian pilots and aviation engineers.

Jacopo Prisco and Jack Guy contributed to this report



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