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Bigger is better!
The Antonov An-225 aka Mriya -- Russian for "Dream" -- is the world's biggest plane, period, and it is also the largest plane that has flown more than one flight. (Howard Hughes' one-shot Spruce Goose still claims the top spot, thanks to a wingspan 10 meters longer than the An-225's.)


The An-225 was constructed with one primary purpose in mind: its job was to ferry about the Russian space shuttle Buran strapped on its back. The design is heavily based on the world's second-biggest plane, the Antonov An-124 Ruslan, and creating the An-225 mainly involved stretching the body 12m, enlarging the wings and adding two more jet engines.

The first (and so far only) An-225 was rolled out in Kiev in November 1988, and its maiden flight followed on December 21, 1988. On March 22, 1989, the plane broke 110 aviation world records by carrying 156 tons of cargo for almost 4 hours, and in May it ferried the Buran for 2700 km.

Alas, the dissolution of the Soviet Union ended the Buran project. Now owned by the Ukraine, the An-225 flew around between air shows for a while, but was mothballed in spring 1994. Only in February 2001 was it finally restored and updated, flying again in May under the flag of Antonov Airlines, a joint company partly owned by British cargo company Air Foyle. On September 11, 2001 (yes, really), the An-225 broke another set of records by hoisting 4 main battle tanks aloft for a total weight of 253,820 kg.


Length: 84,0 m
Height: 18,2 m
Wingspan: 88,4 m
Wing area: 905 sq.m
Cargo payload: ~250 tons (external) or ~220 tons (internal)
Total payload: ~450 tons
Maximum velocity: 850 km/h
Maximum range: 4500 km (full payload) to 15.400 km (no cargo)

Fun Facts

  • The An-225 is powered by 6 jet engines with a thrust of 23,400 kg each.
  • The main landing gear has 7 sets of two wheels.
  • Despite its immense size, it can still make a full turn on a taxiway 60 meters wide.
  • A 4500-km trip under full load chows down on some 200,000 kg of fuel, so flights with this lovable lunk aren't exactly cheap (or environmentally friendly).

Largest mass-produced transport: Antonov An-124 Ruslan, capacity 150t
Largest Western military transport: Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, capacity 118t
Largest Western civil transport: Airbus A300-600ST Beluga, capacity 47t

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