The Antonov An-225 Mriya, largest aircraft in the world, returned to fly after an 18-month hiatus during which it underwent a maintenance and modernization process. On Wednesday, the aircraft took off from Gostomel airport, outside Kiev, to conduct a two-hour test flight.
According to Antonov, this was the first in a series of test flights to verify the new power management and control system designed in Ukraine and installed on the aircraft. The manufacturer, however, has not yet set a date on when the aircraft will be released to resume cargo flights.
The massive six-engine plane is part of the fleet of Antonov Airlines, a special cargo transport division of the Ukrainian company and which also has seven An-124 units and an An-22 turboprop.
Last years of the Soviet Union
The An-225 was developed during the 1980s to support the former Soviet Union’s space program that was preparing Buran, a copy of the US Space Shuttle. Like the Boeing 747, the freighter jet would take the spacecraft between the launch bases.
— Antonov Company 🇺🇦 (@AntonovCompany) March 25, 2020
After the collapse of the communist government in 1991, the only operational aircraft remained decommissioned in Ukraine for a decade before being restored by Antonov, but this time as a commercial freighter on special missions.
Since its debut in commercial cargo transport in 2001, the An-225 has set more than 240 world records, including the plane with the highest maximum take-off weight, 640 tons.
A few years ago, news emerged that the second An-225 unit, which was incomplete in Kiev, would be finalized for a Chinese company, but the deal has not been concluded.
With its unique capacity to transport 250 tonnes, Mriya will remain a rare worldwide attraction wherever it goes.