This is a continuation of a series of articles that tackles different engineering achievement, from world’s tallest building, longest bridge, biggest building, and the likes. Now let’s talk about the world’s largest airplane.
If you wanted to lift a 200-ton cargo and transfer it to another place what you’re going to do? Well for Antonov An-255 Mriya, that’s just an easy task. Mriya is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft designed by the Soviet Union’s Antonov Design Beareau in 1984 – 1988. It’s been created to do the following missions:
- Transportation of the wide-range of cargo (large-sized, heavy, long-size) with total weight up to 250 ton.
- Intercontinental non-stop airlift of cargoes weighting 180−200 ton.
- Intercontinental airlift of cargoes with weight up to 150 ton.
- Transportation of a heavy large-size single pieces with weight up to 200 ton on the external store.
6 turbofan engines power it and it is the heaviest aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tons and the biggest heavier-than-air aircraft in terms of length and wingspan in operational service.
Its first flight took place on December 21, 1988. It is one of the 2 An-255 aircraft that Antonov/Soviet Union planned to create. The other one have never been completed as of now. In May 2011 Antonov CEO is reported to have said that the completion of a second An-225 Mriya transport aircraft with a carrying capacity of 250 tons requires at least $300 million, but if the financing is provided, its completion could be achieved in three years. According to different sources, the second jet is 60–70% complete.
The modernization of Mriya started in 2000, the aim was to use it for commercial purposes, which transport different cargoes. The decision had been taken due to many applications sent to Antonov Airlines for transportation of cargoes heavier than the AN-124-100 Ruslan’s payload. On May 23, 2001, the Mriya passed the certification tests. Aviation Register of Interstate Aviation Committee (AR IAC) and Ukraviatrans issued type certificates to the An-225.
An-255 has a 43.32-meter length, 6.4-meter width, and 4.4-meter height of cargo compartment. That space allows the cargo to carry several cargoes inside like:
- Sixteen standard aeronautical containers of UAC−10 type.
- 50 cars.
- Single piece of cargoes up to 200 t (turbines, generators, dump trucks − Belaz, Kamatsu, Euclid, etc.).
The following are the specification of An-255:
- Crew: 6
- Length: 84 m (275 ft 7 in)
- Wingspan: 88.4 m (290 ft 0 in)
- Height: 18.1 m (59 ft 5 in)
- Wing area: 905 m2 (9,740 sq ft)
- Aspect ratio: 8.6
- Empty weight: 285,000 kg (628,317 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 640,000 kg (1,410,958 lb)
- Fuel capacity: 300000 kg
- Cargo hold – volume 1,300m3, length 43.35m, width 6.4m, height 4.4m
- Powerplant: 6 × ZMKB Progress D-18 turbofans, 229.5 kN (51,600 lbf) thrust each
- Maximum speed: 850 km/h (528 mph; 459 kn)
- Cruising speed: 800 km/h (497 mph; 432 kn)
- Range: 15,400 km (9,569 mi; 8,315 nmi) with maximum fuel; range with maximum payload: 4,000 km (2,500 mi)
- Service ceiling: 11,000 m (36,089 ft)
- Wing loading: 662.9 kg/m2 (135.8 lb/sq ft)
- Thrust/weight: 0.234