On the Destruction and Revival of the Mriya

Ukraine has always been famous for its scientific achievements. Ukrainian engineers have developed impressive projects. Although not all of them were implemented, the most impressive project was – the An-225 Mriya aircraft. This miracle of Ukrainian aviation industry was the largest and most powerful transport aircraft in the world.

The An-225 was created primarily for the Soviet space program and made its first flight in 1988. It was most popular during the pandemic when it was able to transport medical supplies in volumes that cannot be carried by other planes. The Mriya was indispensable for solving urgent and critical logistic tasks.

The aircraft made its last flight on February 5, 2022 and then, on February 27, in the first days of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian invaders destroyed the plane at Hostomel airport.

Advertisement

However, Ukrainians still hope to restore the Mriya, which was not only a great achievement but a symbol of invincibility and desire for freedom of the Ukrainian people.

Destruction of the Mriya: management negligence or sabotage

Opinions have been repeatedly expressed that the Mriya’s destruction could have been avoided. Back in January, after numerous warnings about a possible Russian invasion, the Germans offered to move the entire fleet of Antonov aircraft, the flight crews, and spare parts to Leipzig where the subsidiary office of Antonov Logistics is located. An investigation is currently underway into why they did not accept the offer.

Ukraine Says Situation in East Has 'Deteriorated Significantly'
Other Topics of Interest

Ukraine Says Situation in East Has 'Deteriorated Significantly'

Worrying news from the front in Ukraine's Donbas.

In a conversation with Kyiv Post, Dmytro Antonov, the captain of the Mriya crew, recalls that he landed the plane at Hostomel airport on February 5. The engine was removed from the Mriya then and installed on another aircraft – the Ruslan. In mid-February, the engine was returned to the Mriya, and by February 23, the plane was ready for evacuation.

However, on February 15, the director of Antonov Logistics in Germany was dismissed by Mykhailo Kharchenko, Antonov Airlines Director and his first deputy Oleksandr Verstiuk.

Advertisement

This process did not result in evacuation. They only removed the leadership and remained in Germany. Those who took part in this have been dismissed, while Kharchenko and Verstiuk have been included in the Myrotvorets (Peacemaker) base,” Dmytro Antonov says.

The next indication the aircraft would need to be moved as soon as possible occurred  in mid-February following a statement about the termination of aircraft insurance for flights in the airspace of Ukraine. Thus, the Mriya, most likely, was no longer insured at the time of Russian invasion.

It is difficult to talk about sabotage. I know for sure that currently all investigative bodies are dealing with this issue. However, it’s a pity that as a result of this inaction we lost half of our aircraft fleet. Of course, they “died” as a result of the Russian invasion. But, unfortunately, there is no punishment for inaction and negligence in the criminal code,” concludes Dmytro.

The Mriya restoration project

Despite everything, Ukrainians believe that the Mriya will be restored. According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, rebuilding the plane will require from $800 million to $3 billion, but potential investors are demanding a clear estimate to understand what the money will be spent on.

Advertisement

Of course, the Mriya is not a commercial project, and repayment will take about 50 years. However, the world understands that Ukraine is currently defending the whole of Europe and fighting for the democratic values of the world. Therefore, in the post-war period, undoubtedly many would be willing to help Ukrainians with the restoration of this bright symbol of the Ukrainian spirit.

Richard Branson (an English businessman and founder of the Virgin Group corporation) has recently come to Hostomel. He is interested in the opportunity to take part in the restoration of the Mriya. It is for such situations that we need to have a ready-made investment project, so that everyone understands that we are serious about it and they can work with us,” Dmytro told Kyiv Post.

In his opinion, it’s necessary to work on the development of the project right now, not to waste time and start the project immediately after the war.

It’s necessary to involve all the aircraft manufacturers of the world, such as Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, and others. It’s difficult to get through it alone because the Mriya is a unique and large plane. It’s essential to create conditions for international cooperation with effective interaction,” Antonov believes.

Advertisement

According to the pilot of the largest plane on the planet, the project can be created in six months to a year of active work. Using the most advanced technologies, the airplane can be rebuilt in about two years.

In addition, the An-225 is actually an enlarged Ruslan (An-124). Therefore, using the results of the Mriya restoration project, it would be possible to extend the life of the surviving Ruslans, which are currently making commercial flights, thereby keeping the Antonov state-owned enterprise afloat. According to Dmytro, the Antonov team intends not only to build a new Mriya, but also to restore the airport complex, creating a powerful cargo hub with a small passenger terminal.

An example of such a hub is the airport in the city of Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the final assembly point for Airbus aircraft is located. This airport accepts and serves all types of aircraft, has a passenger terminal and a flight test station.

Working on these projects is exactly what can be done during the war,” Dmytro emphasizes.

The achievements of the An-225 in cargo transportation

The Antonov enterprise provided transportation of significant cargo volumes. For example, its planes have been regularly flying to Afghanistan transporting necessary goods and food for more than 20 years.

After the Russian nuclear-powered submarine Kursk sank in 2000, the British began setting up an emergency team to respond to similar incidents. The An-225 was involved in the process: The plane made a flight to Great Britain specifically to test the speed of loading the team along with containers, machinery, submersibles, etc. Everyone was extremely satisfied with the resulting time of an hour and a half, in contrast to the much worse performance of the American planes.

Advertisement

Among the most impressive cargoes carried by the world’s largest plane was a generator weighing 140-150 tonnes delivered from Croatia to the Philippines. There were containers weighing 140 tonnes for a power plant in Bolivia, which the plane transported from Chile. In addition, the plane carried new 44-meter blades, made in China, for electric wind turbines in Denmark. Of course, it’s well known how, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mriya promptly delivered large shipments of medical supplies all over the world.

Actually, every flight was unique. And the plane was always met by many people. For example, when we arrived in Australia in 2016, about 15,000 people gathered near the airport. And a year ago, on Ukraine’s Independence Day, about 3,000 cars gathered before the plane’s landing for the drivers to watch it,” Dmytro recalls.

Advertisement

It’s easy to understand why Russia is eager to ruin the Ukrainian aviation industry. Satellite images show how methodically the Russians were destroying Ukrainian planes. There is evidence that this was not an act of random thoughtless vandalism, but a deliberate execution of clear commands. There are signs of arson and machine gun bursts on the planes.

Wreckage of another plane destroyed by the Russians on the territory of Antonov airport in Gostomel (Patricia Cordell, Kyiv Post)
To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Comments (0)

https://www.kyivpost.com/assets/images/author.png
Write the first comment for this!