The Antonov An-225 “Mriya” is a heavy six-engine medium-to-long range cargo aircraft capable of transporting 250,000 kg of mixed freight.
The aircraft fuselage has a double-deck layout. The cockpit, the relief crew compartment and the troop cabin with 88 seats are on the upper deck. The lower deck is the cargo hold.
The basic configuration of the An-225 is the same as the An-124, except the An-225 is longer, has no rear ramp/door assembly.
This aircraft has roll-on, roll-off ramp for cargo, an onboard overhead crane capable of lifting up to 30 tonnes of cargo, and items up to 120 tonnes can be winched on board. The aircraft can kneel in a nose-down position to ease loading and unloading operations.
Multi-leg landing gear and loading equipment ensure self-sufficient operation of the aircraft on prepared concrete runways and on unpaved airstrips strips.
The Antonov An-225 was designed to airlift the Energia rocket’s boosters and the Buran orbiter for the Soviet space program. It was developed as a replacement for the Myasishchev VM-T. The An-225’s original mission and objectives are almost identical to that of the United States’ Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
The An-225 first flew on 21 December 1988with a 74-minute flight from Kiev.The aircraft was on static display at the Paris Air Show in 1989 and it flew during the public days at the Farnborough air show in 1990. Two aircraft were ordered, but only one An-225 (registration CCCP-82060 later UR-82060 was finished. It can carry ultra-heavy and oversize freight, up to 250,000 kg (550,000 lb) internally, or 200,000 kg (440,000 lb) on the upper fuselage. Cargo on the upper fuselage can be 70 m (230 ft) long.
A second An-225 was partially built during the late 1980s for the Soviet space program. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the cancellation of the Buran space program, the lone operational An-225 was placed in storage in 1994.The six Ivchenko-Progress engines were removed for use on An-124s, and the second uncompleted An-225 airframe was also stored. When it became clear that a cargoliner bigger than the An-124 was needed, the first An-225 was re-engined and put back into service.
By 2000, the need for additional An-225 capacity had become apparent, so the decision was made in September 2006 to complete the second An-225. The second airframe was scheduled for completion around 2008, then delayed. By August 2009, the aircraft had not been completed and work had been abandoned. In May 2011, the Antonov CEO is reported to have said that the completion of a second An-225 Mriya transport aircraft with a carrying capacity of 250 tons requires at least $300 million, but if the financing is provided, its completion could be achieved in three years. According to different sources, the second aircraft is 60–70% complete.