The Antonov AN-225 Mriya still holds the crown for the world’s biggest plane since it was designed in the Cold War. Just one has ever been built – but that’s about to change now that China have set their sights on this mechanical beast, with plans to buy their own brand-new model.
The Antonov Corporation, the Ukrainian company who manufacture the plane, has recently announced an agreement with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China to renew the plane’s production.
It will start by building just one model of the plane in Kiev and deliver it to China by 2021. This will be the second of its kind ever constructed. The bill is expected to be around $500 million, according to Reuters.
The Antonov 225 Mriya airplane departing from Airport Vaclava Havla in Prague in May 2016. Nadezda Murmakova/Shutterstock
"This jet will be built using the basis of the basic framework we already have, but all the equipment will be new," Antonov's China project coordinator Gennadiy Gabruk told AFP.
The 144-tonne (158-ton) AN-225 was designed in the 1980s to airlift rockets and the Buran spacecraft for the Russian Space Agency. The plane is 84 meters (275 feet) in length and has a wingspan of 88 meters (289 feet), with six turbofan engines.
This aerospace colossus took its first flight in 1988, but it has spent most of its life acting as a rented-out cargo transport. There’s no word yet on what the plane will be used for in China or even how many they plan on owning. However, the plane offers many opportunities for lifting and transporting huge amounts of cargo, whether that be for commercial, military, or aerospace use. For example, it once delivered 216,000 meals to American troops in the Persian Gulf.