The Antonov An-225 Mriya was the largest aircraft in the world. This six-engine leviathan was a vital asset in the air cargo world, and was formerly designed to carry Energia rockets and Buran orbiters for the Soviet space program. It has though become most famous for carrying huge items across the globe and helping in humanitarian missions, ferrying medical supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a symbol of pride for Ukraine.

However, the Mryia is sadly no more. The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine has sadly seen the aircraft succumb to attacks at Antonov airport, and images online show the remains of the once proud aircraft. While at the end of the day it is just an aircraft, and many things much worse are taking place in the conflict, its loss will be felt not just by aviation fans, but those in Ukraine as it meant so much to the country. Here's everything that made the Mriya so special.

10 It Was The Largest Aircraft In The World

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via Aviation A2Z

The An-225 had the distinction of being the largest aircraft in the world. Larger than the likes of the Lockheed C-5A Galaxy, Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380.

An-225 During Visit To The UK
via The Herald Scotland

The aircraft was an astonishing 84 meters (275 ft) long while its wingspan was 88.4 meters (290 ft), with three Progress D-18T turbofans under each wing. The size was highlighted by its incredible cargo capacity of 1,300 m3 in volume.

9 Only One Example Was Ever Built

Antonov An-225 Parked On The Ground
via CNN

What helped to make the An-225 so special was its rarity. So rare in fact that it was the only example of its type ever built.

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via Aerotime Hub

The first flight of the aircraft took place in December 1980, and it was then shown off to the public at the Paris Air Show in 1989 and the Farnborough Air Show in 1990. A second example was ordered, but that still lies some 60-70% complete.

8 It Was Initially Used For The Soviet Space Program

Antonov_An-225_with_Buran_at_Le_Bourget_1989
via Wikipedia

The An-225 was very much a product of the former Soviet Union, and it was initially aimed to be a large airlifter that could haul the Energia rockets for the Buran orbiters. The Buran was the Soviet version of the American space shuttle, and the An-225 would be expected to carry the Buran as well.

AN225 And Buran Landing
via FlightRadar24

Its intended purpose was hence similar to the American Boeing 747 carrier aircraft. Of course, the An-225 did not serve the Soviet space program for a great length of time after the project was canceled.

7 The Aircraft Is A Symbol Of National Pride For Ukraine

Antonov An-225 After Take Off
via Wikipedia

While it was designed and built in the era of the Soviet Union, Antonov is an Ukrainian company and the aircraft is thus Ukrainian in origin. In its latter years of service, the An-225 became a symbol of national pride for the country, and its name Mriya means “dream” in Ukrainian.

Antonov-AN-225 Loading Up
via Air Cargo News

Its loss to the country is more than just symbolic, hence the intention to possibly one day rebuild the aircraft.

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6 It Was Vital In Humanitarian Missions

Antonov An-225 Ready For Take Off At End Of Runway
via Flying Magazine

Its loss will not just be felt in Ukraine, either. The An-225 was vital to so many humanitarian missions, in particular during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was used to fly vast amounts of PPE to various countries, taking medical supplies from China all over the globe.

An-225 Flying Covid Kits To Australia
via Aviation 24

The aircraft also flew medical supplies to Namibia back in 2021 to further highlight how important it was.

5 The Only Aircraft That Could Fly Certain Types Of Cargo

An-225 Loading With Nose Open
via Pinterest

Antonov Airlines hold the absolute record for an airlift single-payload item, with the An-225. The record stands at 418,830 lbs.

An-225 At Shannon Airport In Ireland
via Irish Mirror

The aircraft once carried a generator for a gas power plant in Armenia, back in 2009, which weighed in at 417,000 lbs. The An-225 was the only aircraft in the world that could fly such large items in one go without needing a pair of aircraft to carry multiple components.

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4 It Was A Huge Attraction Wherever It Flew

Antonov An-225 Landing On Runway
via CNN

The An-225 gained something of a cult following during its career. Being a one-of-a-kind machine and so large, word would soon spread of its taking flight and where it was heading.

An-225 Landing At RAF Brize Norton
via Wilts And Gloss Standard

Large crowds always gathered at airports it landed at, be they in the UK, America, Canada, Germany, or in its home of Ukraine. Its loss to the aviation world will be immense.

3 One Of The Few Jet Aircraft With Six Engines

An-225-Mriya-Airplane-Transport-aircraft-Takeoff
via Mocah

Very few aircraft in the world have six jet engines. The Scaled Composites Stratolaunch is one aircraft. Most though were either just concepts, such as the Beriev Be-2500, or no longer fly, such as the XB-70 Valkyrie and the Douglas D-906.

An-225 Parked With Buran Orbiter On Top
via Forbes

The loss of the Mryia just leaves the Stratolaunch as the only flying six-engine jet aircraft in the world.

2 Developed From The Successful AN-124

AN-124- Taking Off
via Air Cargo News

The impressive An-225 bears some similarities with the extremely successful Antonov An-124. In fact, the An-124 was what the Mriya was developed from. The An-124 was in fact the largest military transport aircraft in service, and the second-largest cargo aircraft in the world, behind the An-225.

An-124 Loading Railway Carriage
via Aerotime Hub

The An-124 first flew in December 1982 and many are still in service today, with at least 26 still in service as of 2019.

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1 A Vital Asset To The Air Cargo Industry

An-225 Mriya During Fly-By
via Thai Military and Asian Region

We touched upon this earlier, but the An-225 was an important aircraft for the air cargo industry. It was expensive to operate, but it was vital to transport cargo that either needed multiple aircraft or simply could not go in any other aircraft at all.

Antonov An-225 Mriya: Smoky Take Off at Leipzig/Halle Airport
via YouTube

Its loss will be huge, but hopefully, not only will the current conflict soon pass, but after that, perhaps using the second airframe, the An-225 will take to the skies once again. The dream may not yet be over.

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