If the An-225 has been as badly damaged as some pictures suggest, repairing the aircraft may not even be possible.
According to Simple Flying, ‘Access to the airport remained impossible until April 2nd, when Ukrainian forces regained control of the area as Russian troops retreated to the East of the country.
‘It is believed that the nose and wings of the aircraft, in particular, suffered considerable damage. However, until now the full extent of the damage has remained unknown.’
Antonov’s team of investigators along with the An-225’s chief pilot Dmytro Antonov went on-site to survey the damage and conduct a preliminary analysis of the repair costs. They worked in collaboration with the Ukrainian defense company Ukroboronprom.
Simple Flying says that ‘The full findings of the damage assessment have not yet been released, although previous statements from the Ukrainian defense company Ukroboronprom put the cost of repair at $3 billion over five years. It also declared that the aircraft would be rebuilt at Russia’s expense.
‘However, if the An-225 has been as badly damaged as some pictures suggest, repairing the aircraft may not even be possible. Many of the aircraft’s parts were constructed in the 1980s and replacements may be difficult to come across today, almost 40 years later.
‘Both Antonov and aviation enthusiasts worldwide are keen to see Mriya back in the skies, and the manufacturer recently called on public donations to support the rebuild.
‘Yet perhaps a more feasible option would be to continue construction of its second An-225, which was started but never completed.’
Early reports suggest that, even though this semi-built aircraft was stored in the same hangar at Hostomel Airport at the time of the attack, it appears to be intact.
The An-225 made its first flight on Dec. 21, 1988 taking off from the factory aerodrome in Svyatoshyn. The airplane was flown by a crew headed by Oleksandr Galunenko. Mriya was developed for transportation of the Buran shuttle orbiter and components of the Energiya carrier rocket.
The An-225 was also expected to be used as a flying space launching site in the reusable aerospace transport system (MAKS) with the airplane making its first stage and a small-size space shuttle with a fuel tank – the second stage. Mriya can deliver extra-heavy oversize cargo to any point on the globe carrying it either inside the fuselage or on external stores. Two An-225 airplanes were built. Construction of one of the two aircraft was completed. Fuselage and tail unit were assembled at Antonov Kyiv Mechanical Works facility in Kyiv, while the wing center section and outer wing panels were assembled at Valerii Chkalov Tashkent Production Association in Tashkent. The wings and wing center sections were transported from Tashkent to Kyiv on the An-22 Antaeus (Antei).
The single example built had the Ukrainian civil registration UR-82060. The second airframe had a slightly different configuration. Its construction was halted in 1994 because of lack of funding and interest, but revived briefly in 2009, bringing it to 60–70% completion. On Aug. 30, 2016, Antonov agreed to complete the second airframe for Airspace Industry Corporation of China (not to be confused with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China) as a prelude to commencing series production.
Photo credit: Antonov