One of the symbols of Ukraine is the heavy transport aircraft "Mriya," created in 1988 in the USSR by the Kyiv-based Antonov Design Bureau (now Ukrainian state enterprise "Antonov"). Unfortunately, in 2022, this giant and holder of numerous records was destroyed by the aggressor's shells. However, there is hope that Ukrainians will have a new "Mriya." The price ranges from $120 million to $3 billion. What is currently known about the reconstruction of this famous aircraft?

The An-225 "Mriya" was developed under the leadership of Chief Designer Petro Balabuyev and Chief Engineer Viktor Tolmachev. In just 3.5 years, the construction of this giant was completed. At the design stage, plans were made to prepare a variant of the Antonov An-124 transport aircraft for the special transportation of Soviet space shuttles like the "Buran," as well as components of the "Energia" rocket system. However, the space theme was later abandoned. The "Mriya" is the largest and heaviest cargo aircraft in the world. It made its first flight on December 21, 1988, and has been in operation since 1989. Only one aircraft of the An-225 model has been put into operation; the second one was never delivered.

On February 7, 2024, it was the 118th anniversary of the birth of the outstanding aircraft designer, talented scientist, and founder of the aircraft manufacturing enterprise, Oleg Konstantinovich Antonov. He entered the history of world aviation as the creator of famous gliders and aircraft, including the beloved An-2 and the globally renowned giants, the An-22 "Antei" and the An-124 "Ruslan."

After the dissolution of the USSR and the termination of the "Energia" program, the "Mriya" aircraft did not take off, and later its equipment began to be dismantled. However, in the early 2000s, it was restored and used for cargo transportation of up to 200 tons. In 2009, a world record for transportation was set at 253.8 tons. Overall, the An-225 holds 240 world records. However, in Ukraine, there are not many cities with airports where such an aircraft could land and be serviced. Therefore, "Mriya" was mostly based at Gostomel Airport (Kyiv region).

"If you imagine 'Mriya' as a living organism, it would be a person of the future. After 1982, we clearly understood that 'Mriya' had to exist. Seeing 'Mriya' as a perspective, we began to think broader. It's the work of a giant team," recalled the project's chief engineer-technologist, Viktor Voytsekhovsky.

What will the new "Mriya" be like?

On May 20, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced plans to complete the construction of a second An-225 to replace the destroyed aircraft.

"In this case, it's not a matter of money; it's a matter of ambition. We were approached by 'Ukroboronprom,' the Antonov team. This is a matter of our country's image and all the wonderful professional pilots who died in this war," explained Zelensky.

The State Enterprise "Antonov" stated that this project will be carried out in broad international cooperation with the participation of leading companies and enterprises in the global aviation industry. According to the Chief Designer of the State Enterprise "Antonov," Vladyslav Vlasik, the new version of the An-225 aircraft will be more powerful than its predecessor, but at the same time significantly lighter. It is noted that international donors are ready to allocate funds for this, and the aircraft will most likely be created based on its predecessor. Whole parts were removed from the destroyed aircraft and will be installed in the new one. There are no plans to change the aircraft externally, but the interior will be equipped with modern equipment. There may be difficulties, as the piloting system and engine control system need to be developed from scratch. There is also a problem with the D-18 engines. Motor Sich stopped producing them long ago, and a new engine of this type will cost over $20 million. And six of them are needed. The solution might be to install engines that were used on the An-124 "Ruslan" aircraft.

Therefore, the cost of rebuilding the "Mriya" could reach billions of dollars. Experts from Ukroboronprom estimated the project at $120 million to $3 billion, while the State Enterprise "Antonov" estimated it at $250 to $300 million. Concerned people from all over the world continue to donate to the fund for the restoration of "Mriya." "Antonov" promised that they would be used exclusively for the implementation of the aircraft reconstruction project. When the program will be implemented is currently unknown.

The founder of Virgin Galactic, billionaire Richard Branson, has also joined the project. During his visit to Gostomel Airport, cooperation in the space industry and the project to build the new "Mriya" aircraft were promptly discussed with him. According to MP David Arakhamia, Branson expressed his readiness to help "in any way he can."

According to Bild, since 2022, Leipzig/Halle Airport has started assisting in raising funds for the reconstruction of the destroyed An-225.

Even developers of computer games have joined the aircraft reconstruction project. Therefore, in 2023, Antonov and Microsoft entered into a licensing agreement for the right to use the trademark An-225 "Mriya." Microsoft approached the State Enterprise "Antonov" with the initiative to revive the An-225 in this game, as close to the original as possible. Therefore, anyone interested can now feel like a pilot of the world's largest aircraft by playing Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Additionally, Microsoft decided to direct all proceeds from the sale of the Mryia add-on in Microsoft Flight Simulator to a special account for the reconstruction of the An-225.

Of course, there are skeptics who are confident that the new "Mriya" will never be built. For us, she became Marusya. In this word is all the love of the workers for "Mriya," which everyone felt, from workers to pilots. "Mriya" was created by one big family of aircraft builders. It's a source of pride to be involved in creating such a giant aircraft. There are no more such planes, and there never will be. No one will ever be able to reproduce "Mriya" and surpass our achievements," commented Gennadiy Silchenko, the director of the heavy transport aircraft program.

We hope that someday a new "Mriya" will appear in our sky. Do you think the world's largest aircraft will be rebuilt? Share your thoughts in our Telegram channel.

Interesting facts

"Mriya" became the first aircraft to use polyurethane paint. The total weight of the paint coating is about 900 kilograms.

Few people know, but the name "Mriya" was painted on the plane's side the last night before it was rolled out of the workshop.

The aircraft's crew consists of 6 people; wingspan: 88 meters; length: 84 meters; height: 18 meters; empty weight: 250 tons; at full load: 640 tons; speed: 850 km/h; range: 15,400 km; with a 200-ton cargo: 4000 km; ceiling: 12 km.