Not All Heroes Wear Capes, Some Have Wings: Ukraine's Mriya Plane Delivers Coronavirus Aid
14 April, 2020

The largest airplane in the world landed in Warsaw on April 14. It brought medical aid from China to the Polish capital. The flight was its first in 18 months, as the plane was being modernized. And it was constructed by Ukraine’s Antonov State Enterprise.

According to Polish company KGHM, which organized the An-225 Mriya’s transport operation, it took over 15 hours to load the cargo hold in Tianjin, China with 1,050 cubic meters of medical supplies, among which were 7,000,000 medical masks, laboratory tests and personal protective equipment. 

Mriya, which translates as "dream" or "inspiration", had its first test flight since 2018 on March 25.

The gentle giant departed Kyiv on April 11 and made one refueling stopover in Almaty, Kazakhstan on its way to China.

Mriya was originally designed at the end of the Cold War in the 1980s to carry the Soviet “Buran” spaceplane and parts of the “Energia” rocket, but is now used commercially as an international cargo transporter. It can carry up to 640 tons, and with its six turbofan engines, is also the world's heaviest aircraft. 

According to the design bureau, Mriya holds more than 250 aviation records, among which are the transportation of the largest single piece of cargo weighing 187.6 tons, as well as an absolute record in carrying capacity of 253.8 tons.

In June 2010, the An-225 carried the world's longest piece of air cargo, two 42.1 m (138 ft) test wind turbine blades also from Tianjin, China to Skrydstrup, Denmark.

On top of that, the beautiful beast has the largest wingspan of any plane in operational service.

Its latest achievement is also impressive. "In the history of aviation, this amount of cargo has never been transported inside the cargo compartment of an aircraft," a statement published by Antonov on Facebook reads.

Mriya’s take-off and landing always attracts thousands of spectators. This time about 80,000 people watched the plane land at Chopin Airport. It was only its third appearance in Poland, and despite the airport administration urging people not to come to watch Mriya’s arrival due to the coronavirus-induced quarantine, tens of thousands still came to watch the plane.

A second An-225 airframe has been agreed on by Antonov in 2016, after the Airspace Industry Corporation of China managed to strike a deal with Ukraine – which could pave the way for a series production in the future.