The Ukrainian aircraft builder wants to resume building the second airframe that was never completed and in storage since 1994.
As we reported earlier this year, the one-of-a-kind An-225 Mriya cargo aircraft was destroyed during the first days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now, Antonov is planning on resuming to build the second An-225 that was stored since 1994, when it was decided to stop its construction following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Recently, Leipzig/Halle airport in Germany opened an exhibition to keep Mriya’s memory alive. The An-225, in fact, was a regular presence in Leipzig and the airport is now hosting also the surviving An-124s that were not damaged in Ukraine, as well as about 300 employees working for Antonov. The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Oleksij Makejev, visited the exhibition and stated that “Leipzig is not only a home for the airplanes, but also a runway into the future.”
The Acting Director General of Antonov, Yevhen Gavrilov, also visited the exhibition and talked with reporters disclosing details about the company’s goal of resuming the construction of the never-completed second An-225. The German newspaper Bild reported that Antonov is already building the aircraft at a secret location and is about 70% complete, but was later corrected by a company statement.
“Currently, design work has begun in this direction. According to available expert estimates, currently there are about 30 percent of components that can be used for the second model of the aircraft”, said Antonov on Facebook. “The cost of building the aircraft is estimated at least 500 million euros. However, it is too early to talk about the specific amount. More detailed information will be distributed after the victory of Ukraine in the war.”
The construction of the second Mriya began in 1989. In 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed, but the assembly of the aircraft continues, until it was eventually halted in 1994 because An-225’s impressive load capabilities suddenly were deemed excessive and not in high demand. The airframe was then stored in a hangar at Antonov’s facilities in Hostomel, but its current whereabouts are unknown.
All the essential components of the second airframe’s superstructure have been manufactured, including the fuselage, wings, nose gear and tail, according to a CNN report following a visit to the hangar before the war. Antonov is evaluating what parts of the old Mriya can be transferred and used on the second one, as well as calculating the cost of all the equipment that will be installed on the aircraft and of the work required.
In the meanwhile, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed that investigations are underway to determine whether employees of Antonov cooperated with Russian agents and ultimately facilitated the destruction of the Mriya aircraft. At the same time, the Security Service of Ukraine reported preliminary conclusions on their investigation which found that officials, despite the warnings of state authorities, did not take appropriate measures to preserve the An-225.