The Largest Airplane Ever Built
The Antonov An-225 Mriya is a cargo aircraft that was designed by the Soviet Union’s Antonov Design Bureau in the 1980s. It is powered by six turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes. It also has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service. Only one An-225 was ever built and the behemoth transporter is still in service today.
Photograph above by Vasiliy Koba
The first and only An-225 was completed in 1988 after four years of construction. The An-225 first flew on 21 December 1988 with a 74-minute flight from Kiev. The Antonov An-225 was originally designed to airlift the Energia rocket’s boosters and the Buran space shuttle for the Soviet space program.
After successfully fulfilling its Soviet military missions, it was mothballed for eight years. It was then refurbished and re-introduced, and is in commercial operation with Antonov Airlines carrying oversized payloads. An increased-capacity landing gear system with 32 wheels was designed, some of which are steerable, enabling the aircraft to turn within a 60 m (200 ft) wide runway. [source]
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