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The world’s largest aircraft, the unique Antonov AN-225 Mriya (Dream) appeared out of snow and darkness in Toronto in the early morning hours of Nov. 17. Flight number ADB3452 delivered mining parts from Doncaster, Sheffield, England to Toronto’s Pearson Airport via Keflavik, Iceland and Goose Bay, NL.
The six-engine behemoth is the only aircraft of its type (construction of a second was started, but never completed). It is a bigger version of the much more common four-engined Antonov AN-124, and is powered by six Ivchenko Progress D-18T turbofan engines. It made its first flight on Dec. 21, 1988. The Mriya was designed as a carrier for Energiya booster rockets and the Soviet Buran Space Shuttle, which rode it piggyback until cancellation of the program in 1993, with the fall of the Soviet Union. It was stored for six years before being reactivated and reinforced for heavy commercial transport work in 2000. With a takeoff weight of 640 tonnes (1,410,000 pounds), it can carry 250,000 kilograms (550,000 pounds) internally on its main cargo deck, which is 43.35 metres (142 feet) long, or 200,000 kilograms (440,000 pounds) piggyback.
It is the longest and heaviest aircraft in history. Its wingspan (88.4 metres or 290 feet) is second only to the Hughes H-4 Spruce Goose. It has 32 wheels, mostly steerable, allowing turns in a 60-metre radius. It usually carries very heavy or oversized loads and is renowned for transporting huge generators, wind turbines, mining machinery, a locomotive, up to four battle tanks or 50 cars. It has delivered huge amounts of emergency aid supplies and equipment for Japanese tsunami and Haitian earthquake victims.
The Mriya’s first Canadian appearance was at the Abbotsford Air Show in August 1989. Although this is the massive aircraft’s first visit to Toronto, it has been to other Canadian airports over the years, including Edmonton, Gander, and Montreal Mirabel. It has provided many heavylift flights for the Canadian military’s deployment to Afghanistan from CFB Trenton, Ont. It is scheduled to depart Toronto on Nov. 19.