The constant stream of upsetting news from Ukraine doesn’t seem to show signs of slowing down, and in addition to the losses and damages the region has to endure, a major one is the destruction of the Antonov AN225 ‘Mriya’ – the world’s largest plane. As per the Ukranian government, the mega flyer ‘Mriya’ – which translates to ‘dream’ – is said to have been destroyed after Russian forces took control of the Antonov airport in Gostomel near Kyiv, a site of intense attacks by the Russian military.

Satellite images from Maxar Technologies revealed massive damage to the hangar where the AN255 was stored.

AN255  Maxar Technologies

According to Ukroboronprom, Ukrainian’s state defense company which manages Antonov, the AN225 ‘Mriya’ had been on the ground near Kyiv on February 24th, and was undergoing maintenance.

Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba took to Twitter to express his shock regarding the incident but also his resolve to fight back.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also confirmed the sad news stating:  “Yesterday we lost, unfortunately, our “Dream”, but the old “Dream”. And now we are building a new one. Glory to Ukraine!”

Ukroboronprom, however, added that the AN255 would be rebuilt at Russia’s expense — a cost of about $3 billion.

“The restoration is estimated to take over 3 billion USD and over five years,” the statement said. “Our task is to ensure that these costs are covered by the Russian Federation, which has caused intentional damage to Ukraine’s aviation and the air cargo sector.

Only one AN225 aircraft was ever built by the Antonov company and it first took flight in December 1988. The AN225 was designed for the Soviet Space mission as a carrier for the Buran-class orbiters. After the collapse of the Soviet space shuttle mission, the airplane was repurposed to be a cargo plane. Known for its ability to land in difficult terrains, the 32-wheeled behemoth was powered by six turbofan engines, and had a maximum payload weight of 250 tonnes, making it the heaviest aircraft to be ever built. The Mriya also had the largest wingspan making it the largest functional aircraft in history.

Besides drawing appreciation for its size and tech, the Antonov AN225 was the go-to choice for a number of humanitarian efforts. The cargo aircraft has transported everything from wind turbine blades, generator for a gas power plant to medical supplies during emergencies, assisted during the 2010 Haiti earthquake and, more recently, it was employed for COVID-19 relief effort as well.

Sharing the sentiments of the people of Ukraine and the government, the aviation community and plane spotters have been affected by the news of the wrecking of the colossal aircraft:

Photo credit: @AntonovCompany