Purposes of creation.
The reason for the construction of the An-225 was the need to create an air transport system for the Buran reusable spacecraft project. The main purpose of the heavy transport aircraft in the framework of this project was the transportation of various components of the launch vehicle and spacecraft from the place of production and assembly to the launch site. There was also an important task of delivering the space shuttle to the cosmodrome in case it landed at alternate airfields.
In addition, it was planned to use the An-225 as the first stage of the spacecraft air launch system, which required the aircraft to carry at least 250 tons.
An-225 is the heaviest cargo aircraft ever to take to the air. The only aircraft that surpasses the An-225 in terms of wingspan is the Hughes H-4 Hercules, which belongs to the class of flying boats and took to the air only once in 1947. In 2017, the largest twin-body transport aircraft Scaled Composites Stratolaunch Model 351 was presented in the United States, surpassing the An-225 and Hughes H-4 Hercules in terms of wingspan (117 m), however, according to preliminary data, it is inferior to the Mriya in terms of maximum takeoff weight and carrying capacity (the first flight of the Stratolaunch took place in 2019), and is a twin-fuselage.
The Mriya aircraft set a number of world records for takeoff weight and payload. March 22, 1989 An-225 flew with a load of 156.3 tons. In August 2004, a new record was set - Mriya transported two hundred and fifty tons of special equipment commissioned by Zeromax GmbH from Prague to Tashkent.
In August 2009, the aircraft was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for transporting the largest monocargo in the history of aviation with a total weight of 187.6 tons. It was a generator weighing 174 tons, which was transported along with a special frame from German Frankfurt to Yerevan for a new Armenian power plant (see Discovery Science, the program "Special Forces" Heavy Machines "").
"Mriya" holds the absolute record for carrying capacity - 253.8 tons.
On June 10, 2010, the longest cargo in the history of air transportation was transported - two wind turbine blades 42.1 meters long each. In November 2016 (see above), a record weight for South America was transported - a turbogenerator in a special design with a total weight of 182 tons.
In total, this aircraft is the owner of about two hundred and fifty world records.
It first took to the skies on December 21, 1988 from the factory airfield of the experimental design bureau named after O.K. Antonov. The flight lasted an hour and a half.
The An-225 participated in the Buran program by transporting the Buran to the Paris Air Show in May 1989 and making several demonstration flights at Baikonur in April 1991.
After the collapse of the USSR, the only flying copy of the aircraft stopped flying in 1994. By the 2000s, there was a need for it, and it was restored by Ukrainian enterprises. The airliner has undergone refinement to meet the standards of aircraft for civil aviation.
On May 23, 2001, type certificates were issued for the An-225 Mriya. An-225 was registered in Ukraine, carried out commercial cargo transportation.
In the period from May 10 to May 15, 2016, Mriya flew from Ukraine to Australia, making 4 intermediate landings along the way. The flight range was over 15.5 thousand km. Its cargo was a 117-ton Brush SEM generator.
On November 14, 2016, the Mriya landed at the Brazilian Viracopos airport. The aircraft delivered to Santiago a 155-ton electric turbine made in Brazil by ABB (total cargo weight 182 tons), which is a record for South America.
In February 2019, Anatoly Vovnyanko, one of the creators of the An-225, noted that "In recent years, the An-225 has carried out 1-3 transportations of oversized cargo per year."
It has undergone an 18-month overhaul since 2019, first taking off at the end of March 2020.
On April 11, 2020, it performed the first commercial flight after repairs from Kyiv to Tianjin with refueling in Alma-Ata to deliver goods from China to Poland, to combat COVID-19 in Poland.
On August 24, 2021, he took part in the aviation part of the military parade dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence.
The Ukrainian military-industrial concern Ukroboronprom reported that as of the morning of February 24, 2022, the aircraft was under repair and maintenance work at the Antonov Company site in Gostomel; one of the engines was removed for repairs, and on that very day the plane could not fly, although the appropriate commands were given in the conditions of an armed conflict with the Russian Federation. As a result, the plane, which was in the hangar of the Gostomel airport, was destroyed by Russian troops during the battles for the Antonov airport.