Antonov Airlines drafts world’s largest freighter to do the heavylifting

The An-225 Mriya aircraft’s 250-tonne capacity is expected to meet the demand as customers mull options to transport oversized shipments.

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An-225 Mriya aircraft Holding 224 world records, the Ukrainian airline’s An-225 Mriya is the largest freighter in existence, with a cargo capacity of up to 250 tonnes. (Courtesy of Antonov Airlines)

Antonov Airlines on 7 December announced that it will be putting its An-225 Mriya (meaning “dream” in Ukrainian) into commercial operation as customers face a crunch in heavylift capacity.

The 250-tonne-capacity An-225 Mriya aircraft had been sideline this year for routine maintenance but will be back in action next week, according to the Ukrainian airline.

The move comes as the airline saw a surge in demand for An-124s due to limited capacity for such aircraft. Antonov has a fleet of seven An-124s, two of have a capacity of up to 150 tonnes.

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Taking into consideration the current very limited availability of An-124 aircraft on the market, we are giving priority to time-critical cargo and to give additional lifting capacity, we will enter our AN-225 aircraft into commercial operation after running routine maintenance,” said Andriy Blagovisniy, commercial director.

It would be worth noting that Volga-Dnepr Airlines pulled out its An-124s from commercial operations on safety grounds, following investigations on an aviation incident Novosibirsk, Russia, that forced the aircraft to emergency landing.

“We are a responsible airline and put flight safety first, ensuring the proper maintenance and airworthiness of our entire fleet, working with full technical support from holders of AN-124-100 and D-18T engine type certificates and conforming to our safety policy, as well as national and international regulations,” commented Blagovisniy, saying that proper maintenance and lifetime extension is needed to ensure safe operation of both aircraft’s engines and airframes.

Earlier this year, the An-225, which is the only one in existence, safely transported more than 1,300 of humanitarian and medical cargo to aid in the fight against Covid-19.

On 13 November, Volga-Dnepr AN-124  suffered an uncontained engine fan disk failure of series D-18T, which resulted in engine failure and the loss of control systems.

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