Dream came true for Hyderabad on Friday. The world’s largest cargo aircraft, Antonov AN-225 Mriya (Ukrainian for ‘dream’), landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in the Indian city of Hyderabad.
It is powered by three pairs of turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes, a statement said.
It also has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service, the statement added. It comes after Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence signed a strategic pact last month with the ANtonic Company of Ukraine for the assembly, manufacture, maintenance and repair of its platforms in India, both for the commercial and the military market.
Reliance Defence together with Antonov will jointly address various requirements including 50-80 seat passenger aircraft programme of the HAL, in its basic configuration and in all its variants such as transport, maritime patrol and other military roles.
India is said to require over 200 medium lift turbofan aircraft valued at Rs.35,000 crore, which is the backbone of all tactical transport support of the air force, army and para-military forces.
Mriya will halt at the GMR-owned Shamshabad Airport for 20 hours for refuelling and rest for crew during a flight from Prague to Perth with 130 tonnes of energy equipment for a Western Australian mining company. Up to 50,000 people are expected at the Perth airport next Sunday to watch the arrival of this gigantic aircraft in Australia, said Rishabh Birla, Managing Director of Air Shagoon.
The plane will refill 120 tonnes of fuel before it takes off again in the wee hours of Saturday for Jakarta en route to Perth.
Mriya was originally designed to transport Energia’s rocket boosters and the Buran space shuttle of the Russian space programme in the ’80s.
The aircraft has such a spacious cargo hold that a Boeing 737 aircraft could be accommodated. The aircraft is powered by six turbofan engines.