Confirmation of plans to rebuild world’s largest plane

(CNN) – For the recipients, the destruction of the world’s largest commercial airliner was one of the most important images at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In February, an Antonov AN-225 was attacked at its base in Hostomil, near Kiev.

Now it seems they have kept their promises as the company has already announced plans to rebuild it.

Nicknamed “Mriya” – Ukrainian for “dream” – the giant plane was built in the 1980s to transport the Soviet space shuttle.

Its later life, while slightly less glamorous, was just as imaginative – it was the largest freight forwarder in the world, with roughly twice the storage capacity of a Boeing 747, and achieved cult status among the employees themselves. It extended to 84 meters, or 275 feet, with the longest wingspan of any fully operational aircraft. To date, it is the heaviest aircraft ever built.

The nose of the plane was directly hit, according to CNN journalist Vasco Coutvio, who saw it in April.

Jacques Guise/AFP/Getty Images

Its destruction was announced on 27 February 2022 with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Twitter that “Russia may have destroyed our Maria … but they will not be able to destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state.”

Antonov said at the time that it was unable to verify the plane’s condition, while CNN journalist Vasco Kotovio noted that the nose appeared to be “immediately shot” and “completely destroyed” when he saw it in April. visit.

“There was extensive damage to the wings and some engines. The rear of the tail has survived all major impacts and has had a few punctures from shrapnel or bullets,” he said at the time, predicting that a repair would be unlikely. .

However, Antonov tweeted on Monday that the reconstruction project has been completed Already started, with Design Works in the near future. Although it estimated repair costs, the company anticipated a bill of more than 500 million euros ($502 million) to get it back on the air, promising more information “after the victory.”

The company has already announced that it has about 30% of the components needed to build a new one.

Initially, Ukraine’s state defense company Ukroboronprom, which operates the Antonov, released a statement projecting the recovery at more than $3 billion — which it promised to pay to Russia. She then said the reconstruction would take at least five years.

The company said the renovation would cost more than $502 million.

Matthews and Lodarczyk/NoorPhoto/Getty Images

The announcement coincides with the launch of an exhibition dedicated to the aircraft at Germany’s Leipzig/Halle airport, which is home to five other Antonov aircraft. Light and Shadow: The Antonov Story features images of the plane before and after its destruction, highlighting the technical prowess it lost when it was attacked. It can be seen until the end of December.

At the opening, Oleksiy Mikheev, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, said that although he had “flown almost every AN aircraft, Mriya remained a dream for me,” in a company statement.

“We hope it will be restored and we will see this mighty bird in the sky again,” he added.

In the meantime, if you miss Mriya, you can build your own model – or at least your own model. Ukrainian startup Metaal Tijd sells the AN-225 working mechanical design kit. Each costs $99, and the proceeds will go directly to Antonov to fund Mriya’s rebuilding, as well as rehousing Antonov employees whose homes were destroyed by the Russian invasion, and training new Ukrainian pilots and flight technicians.

Jacobo Brisco and Jack Jay contributed to this report

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