Antonov An-225 will enter the fight against Covid-19

The world’s largest aircraft will fly between China and Poland in the coming days to bring medical supplies to face the pandemic
The only An-225 in the world: in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic (Antonov)

The fight against the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) will be reinforced by a giant, the Antonov An-225 Mriya. The largest aircraft ever built was contracted to fly between China and Poland to bring medical supplies to the European country.

The announcement was made by KGHM, a Polish multinational that operates in metallurgy and mining, who stated that “7 million masks, several hundred thousand coveralls and several hundred thousand helmets – all this will be on board the largest transport aircraft in the world, which will fly to Poland in a week.”

The urgent need to supply hospitals with the necessary material to treat patients with coronavirus has caused several countries to charter planes to fly from China, a country that has produced large amounts of equipment. In addition to cargo jets and even adapted passenger aircraft, Antonov An-124 are also being used frequently, due to their immense load capacity, of 150 tons.

But the use of the An-225, of which there is only one aircraft in the world, is something new because the six-engine jet had not been flying for 18 months due to technical updates. Antonov has put the plane back into flight in recent weeks, but only to check the operation of the newly installed systems.

With a capacity to carry 250 tons of cargo, the An-225 is equivalent to two and a half times the payload of a Boeing 777F, one of the most used freighter aircraft in the world. However, the Ukrainian aircraft is more suitable for transporting bulky equipment than containers, for example.

The An-225 flew for the first time in 1988 on a mission to transport the Buran, Russian Space Shuttle

Abandoned airframe

Unlike the An-124, in which it originated and which had 55 units assembled, the An-225 only had one aircraft completed and which flew for the first time in 1988. Even in the days of the Soviet Union, the massive jet was built to transport the Buran, the Russian Space Shuttle, but with the end of the program and communism, the Antonov plane ended up being used in special cargo transport missions, thanks to its unbeatable capacity.

Before the program collapsed, Antonov even partially assembled a second An-225. This airframe can be seen in satellite images at the Ukrainian manufacturer’s headquarters in Kiev, where it has been next to a hangar for at least 12 years.

A few years ago, a Chinese company showed interest in financing its completion, but the project has not evolved since then. Something to regret, after all, a second An-225 would be of great use in times like this.

The second An-225 airframe at the Antonov plant in Kiev: incomplete for over a decade (Antonov)

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