The one and only Antonov An-225 Mriya has been confirmed to have been destroyed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the aircraft’s level of destruction is still unknown, a video report has given us a visual of what it now looks like.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been heartbreaking on many fronts. The biggest and most important is the human toll, as the invasion has led to the loss of countless lives. Many huddle under structures to hide from airstrikes. Russia’s invasion also destroyed one of Ukraine’s symbols of national pride, the massive Antonov An-225 Mriya. While engineers haven’t been able to assess the aircraft’s technical condition, a Russian state television report from Kyiv’s Gostomel Airport shows that the plane at least appears to have taken heavy damage.
It’s hard to make everything out from the footage provided, but the fuselage right around the front of the wings appears to have been thoroughly burned. The cockpit looks to be gone, and the Antonov’s cargo door sits on the ground, itself damaged. You can make out the aircraft’s name on it. The starboard wing appears to have taken some damage as well.
However, it’s not all bad. Look closely, and you’ll see the aircraft’s cheatline (the Ukrainian flag-colored strip painted along the fuselage) and its paint shining bright.
As I said before, this one-off aircraft — named Mriya (Мрія in Ukrainian for “dream”) — is important to Ukraine. It’s the largest cargo plane in the world, aids humanitarian efforts and carries cargo so heavy that no other plane can do the job. The plane’s most recent paint job had it donning Ukraine’s colors for all to see as it flew around the world. Thus, it’s no surprise that both Ukraine’s government and Antonov vow to get the bird back into the sky.
What that may look like is still unclear. Antonov says that an inspection still hasn’t been completed on the aircraft.
Some still wonder why such an important national symbol was grounded in the first place. Ukraine state arms manufacturer and parent company of Antonov Ukroboronprom has an answer:
According to the director of Antonov Airlines, one of the engines was dismantled for repairs and the plane wasn’t able to take off that day, although the appropriate commands were given.
Currently it is impossible to assess the plane’s condition and the possibility and cost of its restoring due the lack of access to the aircraft as the control over the airport is taken by the Russian occupiers.
Antonov does have a second airframe that could be completed should an inspection reveal that the original plane cannot be saved. Back when the An-225 program was launched by the Soviet Union a second plane was ordered, but never finished due to a lack of funds and interest. Work on the airframe has continued off and on throughout the decades as business interest in a second plane waxed and waned.
Antonov continues to tell the world to stay tuned for an official announcement on the Dream’s condition. Hopefully she can be saved, and that blue and yellow livery will stand proud again.
Author’s note: Welcome back to Jalopnik! I know things were confusing last week; it was just as much for us, too. We’re all happy to be back, writing you stories and we have some fun ideas for the future. I’m about to further my descent into letting machines ruin me. And to the dear readers who asked, yes, I’m about to tie the knot!