World’s largest aircraft set to fly again

Plans are being made to rebuild the world’s largest plane.

Design work has begun on a second Antonov An-225 cargo plane, first destroyed by Russian forces in the early days of its invasion of Ukraine, though its manufacturer says the goal of seeing the plane fly again will be some way off.

The giant aircraft, also known as Mriya, was destroyed in February while undergoing repairs at an airfield near Kyiv. This week, however, the Antonov Company announced that the rebuild project had already begun with “design work” already in the offing. 

The company predicted a bill of over EUR500 million ($502 million) to put it back in the air, promising more information “after the victory’. It added that it already has around 30% of the components needed to build a new one.

Originally, Ukrainian state defence company Ukroboronprom, which manages Antonov, had issued a statement estimating the restoration at over $3 billion – a sum which it vowed to make Russia pay. 

The rebuild would take at least five years, it said at the time.

The latest announcement coincides with the launch of an exhibition dedicated to the plane at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Germany, which is home to five other Antonov aircraft. 

“Light and shadow: The Antonov story” shows photos of the aircraft before and after its destruction, focusing on the engineering prowess that was lost when it was attacked. It will be on display until the end of December.

At the opening, Oleksiy Makeiev, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, announced that although he’d flown on “almost all AN aircraft, the Mriya remained a dream for me,” in a statement released by the company.

“We hope that it will be restored and we will see this mighty bird in the sky again,” he added.