After rumors spread that the Antonov An-225 Mriya had been destroyed in a Russian attack on Hostomel airport, Ukrainian state export company Ukroboronprom and the country’s foreign minister admitted that the world’s biggest plane was indeed hit.
“Russian invaders destroyed the flagship in Ukrainian aviation – the legendary An-225 Mriya,” the state-owned company confirmed, then said that the recovery work on the six-engine plane would take time and cost $3 billion.
The statement is not clear on whether the An-225 was completely lost. The Antonov Company, the aircraft’s manufacturer, however, preferred to be cautious about the matter. “Currently, until the An-225 is inspected by experts, we are unable to report on the technical condition of the aircraft,” the company said on Twitter.
A printout from a video shows the company’s hangars engulfed in fire and smoke. A temporary shelter where the An-225 was kept appears to have an aircraft on it, but it is not possible to be sure due to the poor quality of the material.
According to Ukroboronprom, the An-225 was not flown out of Ukraine because one of its engines had been removed from the wing for maintenance.
Plane would be preserved
On Saturday, Antonov shared information from Dmitry Antonov, chief pilot of Antonov Airlines, who on his Twitter account had revealed on February 24 that the airport had been taken over by the Russian military but that the An-225 would be preserved.
The Mriya has become a world celebrity aircraft since it began performing special cargo flights, thanks to its unparalleled capacity. Originally, the An-124 Ruslan-derived aircraft was developed as a transport for Buran, the Soviet space shuttle, which was launched only once.
Ironically, Buran was also lost almost 20 years ago. On May 19, 2002 a part of the hangar where the spacecraft was stored at Baikonur collapsed, killing eight people.