The Largest Aircraft in The World

The Antonov An-225 Mriya is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft that was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Ukrainian SSR within the Soviet Union during the 1980s. It is powered by six turbofan engines and is the heaviest aircraft ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes (710 short tons; 630 long tons). It also has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service. 

The Largest Aircraft in The WorldThe single example built has the Ukrainian civil registration UR-82060. A second airframe with a slightly different configuration was partially built. Its construction was halted in 1994 because of lack of funding and interest, but revived briefly in 2009, bringing it to 60–70% completion. On 30 August 2016, Antonov agreed to complete the second airframe for Aerospace Industry Corporation of China (not to be confused with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China) as a prelude to AICC commencing series production.

The Antonov An-225, initially developed for the task of transporting the Buran spaceplane, was an enlargement of the successful Antonov An-124. The first and only An-225 was completed in 1988. After successfully fulfilling its Soviet military missions, it was mothballed for eight years. It was then refurbished and re-introduced, and is in commercial operation with Antonov Airlines carrying oversized payloads. The airlifter holds the absolute world records for an airlifted single-item payload of 189,980 kilograms (418,830 pounds), and an airlifted total payload of 253,820 kg (559,580 lb). It has also transported a payload of 247,000 kg (545,000 lb) on a commercial flight.

Based on Antonov's earlier An-124, the An-225 has fuselage barrel extensions added fore and aft of the wings. The wings also received root extensions to increase span. Two more Progress D-18T turbofan engines were added to the new wing roots, bringing the total to six. An increased-capacity landing gear system with 32 wheels was designed, some of which are steerable, enabling the aircraft to turn within a 60-metre-wide (200 ft) runway.

The Largest Aircraft in The WorldLike its An-124 predecessor, the An-225 has nose gear designed to "kneel" so cargo can be more easily loaded and unloaded. Unlike the An-124, which has a rear cargo door and ramp, the An-225 design left these off to save weight, and the empennage design was changed from a single vertical stabilizer to a twin tail with an oversized, swept-back horizontal stabilizer. The twin tail was essential to enable the plane to carry large, heavy external loads that would disturb the airflow around a conventional tail. Unlike the An-124, the An-225 was not intended for tactical airlifting and is not designed for short-field operation.

Initially the An-225 had a maximum gross weight of 600 t (660 short tons; 590 long tons), but from 2000 to 2001 the aircraft underwent modifications at a cost of US$20M such as the addition of a reinforced floor, which increased the maximum gross weight to 640 t (710 short tons; 630 long tons).

Both the earlier and later takeoff weights establish the An-225 as the world's heaviest aircraft, being heavier than the double-deck Airbus A380. It is surpassed in other size-related categories, however: Airbus claims to have improved upon the An-225's maximum landing weight by landing an A380 at 591.7 tonnes (1,304,000 lb) during tests, and the Hughes H-4 Hercules, known as the "Spruce Goose", has a greater wingspan and a greater overall height. But the Spruce Goose is 20% shorter and overall lighter, due to the materials used in its construction. In addition, the H-4 only flew once, making the An-225 the largest aircraft in the world to fly multiple times.

The An-225's pressurized cargo hold is 1,300 m3 (46,000 cu ft) in volume; 6.4 m (21 ft 0 in) wide, 4.4 m (14 ft) high, and 43.35 m (142 ft 3 in) long — longer than the first flight of the Wright Flyer. More details