Ukraine starts restoring world’s largest plane
March 29, 2023 - One year after it was destroyed in the early days of the Russian invasion, workers in Ukraine have begun salvaging parts of Mriya with the intention of rebuilding the world’s largest aircraft.
The Mriya was the world’s heaviest plane in operation with the longest body and the greatest wingspan.
Mriya (meaning “dream” in Ukrainian) was originally built in the late 1980s to carry the “Buran”, the orbiter in the short-lived Soviet space shuttle programme.
After the dissolution of the union, the aircraft was placed into storage in 1994, but was restored by 2001, the same year that it broke the record for the heaviest cargo load (253.8 tonnes) by carrying four main battle tanks.
The aircraft continued its records, including carrying the longest piece of air cargo – two 42.1m test wind turbine blades transported from Tianjin, China, to Skrydstrup, Denmark.
The iconic plane was destroyed amid fighting at Hostomel Airport in February 2022, becoming a symbol of Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion.
Antonov, the aviation company that built and owns the Mriya, has said that the salvage operation has started but that piecing together the new craft will wait until after the war, the New York Times reports.
The company estimates the rebuild will cost at least $500 million.