An Interview With Antonov On The AN-225

Daniel Fowkes
23 Apr 2023
· Exclusive 

Thanks to UNITED24 Media, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Antonov to discuss all things AN-225. Following the types destruction during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I put forward burning questions from the Dj’s Aviation community and much more to Antonov.

Q: What is the process of restoring the An-225, taking into account the destruction and the approximate time.

A: In order to restore the An-225 aircraft, it is necessary to carry out a whole set of calculation and experimental design works, including in the direction of identifying partners for the supply of components for the aircraft. These works have already started. The process of rebuilding the plane will be carried out immediately after the victory of Ukraine. According to available calculations, it will take about three years.

Q: Why do you, as a company, strive to restore the An-225? Will it have almost all of the same characteristics as the wrecked glider?

A: The An-225 aircraft is unique, the largest transporter in the world, capable of transporting cargo weighing up to 250 tons, which is beyond the power of not only other aircraft, but also other vehicles. None of the other companies in the world could build such an aircraft.

Therefore, only ANTONOV State Enterprise can restore the An-225. Over the years of its existence, “Mriya” has become a business card not only of our company, but also of the Ukrainian state.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi has repeatedly emphasized the need to rebuild the An-225, including in memory of all the pilots who died in the war. SE “ANTONOV” adheres to the statesman’s position expressed by the President of Ukraine and will take all possible measures to implement it.

The new aircraft will have the same basic characteristics as the previous version of the An-225, or better, taking into account modern certification and technical requirements.

Q: What is the likelihood of getting upgraded avionics and engine kits for the future refurbished An-225? Do they study Western technologies?

A: The restoration of the AN-225 “Mriya” aircraft should become an international project, which will be carried out with the participation of foreign companies – suppliers of equipment and systems.

Negotiations are currently underway with potential customers and partners from Europe, the USA and Asia. Based on their results, the composition of the aircraft equipment will be determined. At the same time, it is planned to leave the Ukrainian-made D-18T engines, which were also installed on the first An-225 model.

Q: What were the most notable and unique cargoes carried by the An-225?

A: Since 2001, when the An-225 “Mriya” aircraft was restored and certified after a long period of downtime associated with the collapse of the USSR and the closure of the “Energy-Buran” program, it was operated as part of the fleet of the air transport division of SE “ANTONOV” and was used for performance of charter transportation of extra-heavy and oversized cargo.
During its operation, the An-225 set 240 world records.

In particular, on September 11, 2001 during one flight, the An-225 set 214 national and 124 world records, including a record cargo of 253,820 tons that was lifted to a height of 1,050 m and a speed of 763 km/h on a closed route. Also, on 16.06.2004 the plane made a flight with commercial cargo weighing 247 tons (4 pipelayers) from Prague (Czech Republic) to Tashkent (Uzbekistan). During this flight, 6 world records were set. In addition, on 11.08.2009 “Mriya” delivered from Frankfurt (Germany) to Yerevan (Armenia) the heaviest monocargo in the history of aviation – a generator, which was transported together with a special frame. The total weight of the cargo was 187.6 tons. This transportation is included in the Guinness Book of Records.

The intensity of operation of the An-225 depended on the receipt of orders for transportation by this aircraft. For example, in the period from 2014 to 2022, the aircraft made 77 flights (317 flights). In 2018, the AN-225 “Mriya” aircraft performed a series of 12 flights to deliver cargo from Chile to Bolivia. The customer of these shipments was the Siemens company as part of a logistics operation for the transportation of six direct-flow steam generators for three thermal power plants in Bolivia.

The An-225 airway lay over the Andes. In each flight, the plane delivered cargo weighing 160 tons. An-225 often took part in humanitarian missions, delivering vital cargo, equipment, and units to areas affected by natural disasters. The AN-225 aircraft most actively carried out humanitarian transportation during the COVID-2019 pandemic, thereby performing urgent logistical tasks. In 2020 alone, it transported more than 1,300 tons of medical and humanitarian cargo. In 2021, “Mriya” performed 15 flights (64 flights).

Q: Much debate surrounds the potential partial secondary airframe. What is its status? What happened to him?

A: Since the enterprise’s activities are related to the defense-industrial sphere, and the information regarding the prospect of rebuilding the An-225 “Mriya” belongs to the interests of national security, the enterprise has no right to disclose individual information.

Q: Unfortunately, the An-225 was destroyed during the conflict. Is there a specific reason why the plane was not taken out of Ukraine?

A: The issue of the possibility of saving the plane is interconnected with the pre-trial investigation of a number of criminal proceedings, which is currently being conducted by the National Police of Ukraine and the Security Service of Ukraine. For the purpose of completeness, objectivity and impartiality of the investigation of the circumstances that are checked within the framework of criminal proceedings, SE “ANTONOV” supports law enforcement agencies in every possible way and complies with the instructions of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine regarding the preservation of secrets

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