New images from Ukraine undoubtedly show the destruction of Mriya, the Antonov An-225 of Antonov Airlines.
On April 1, the airline’s chief pilot, Major Dmytro Antonov (Dmytro), returned to Hostomel Airport, also known as Antonov Airport, after the withdrawal of Russian troops on April 31 March.
He made a video of his comeback, which he described as “the Russian world has been there”, and posted it on his YouTube channel.
Those of you who have watched the video will know that as Dmytro walks around the half-burnt hull, he optimistically points to components here and there that may be salvageable.
He spots blades on an engine, landing gear and even a bullet-riddled tail section and speaks with a colleague in a way that suggests he thinks the plane will fly again.
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Almost forensic, he searches and finds the plane’s identification plate. It seems he wants the world to know with 100% certainty that this is the famous Mriya An-225 he is filming.
The identification plate of the An-225 remains intact on the fuselage after the fire and the destruction of the Antonov Mriya. Photo: Dmytro Antonov
Footage of the plane has been released before, but this is the first time the destruction of Antonov Airlines facilities and most of its planes has been seen.
Asked about the fate of the plane when the first image was posted, the airline said on Twitter that
“Until the An-225 has been inspected by experts, we cannot report on the technical condition of the aircraft.”
At the end of his video, Major Dmytro Antonov could see that the An-225 was completely destroyed. Photo: Dmytro Antonov
If asked that question again, they may issue the same statement, but it is difficult to consider the plane as anything other than write-off.
Apart from anything else, it’s hard to see where the resources will come from to manufacture a new An-225 when Ukraine has so many other things to focus on.
Getting the airline back into service using the planes currently out of the country will be a major undertaking. All offices and documentation were destroyed, most likely along with vital aircraft maintenance records.
What’s left for Antonov Airlines?
When the time comes, Antonov Airlines will rely on the smaller An-124 to launch its cargo operations. Photo: Antonov Airlines
Today, FlightRadar24.com lists the Antonov Airlines fleet containing nine aircraft, including two An-124s, and a mix of seven parked aircraft. By early March it was showing 14 aircraft and a search for flight activity shows it had ceased on March 12.
The Mriya was an iconic aircraft that drew crowds wherever it went, much like the Concorde and the Boeing B747 Jumbo could. Its demise will sadden many aircraft enthusiasts and leave a hole in the world’s heavy-lift capacity.
For example, the An-225 has a payload of 275 tons compared to the An-124 with 150 tons and the Airbus Beluga XL at 56 tons.
The Russian cargo carrier Volga-Dnepr owns twelve Antonov A124 aircraft and five Ilyushin 11-76. Yet with the current sanctions, they are locked out of major freight markets, further disrupting the heavy haul industry.
You can never say never, but it seems we’ve seen the last of the Mryia, which means dream in Ukrainian, and the An-225, which is so popular in Ukraine today, is beyond tragic.
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