Antonov An-225 -The Largest,Heaviest Flying Aircraft In The World

 

Antonov An-225 -The Largest,Heaviest Flying Aircraft In The World
Antonov An-225 -The Largest/ photo credit: Aerobuzz.de

The Antonov An-225 is the largest flying aircraft in the world. The 88.4-meter giants’ span is surpassed only by the Spruce Goose of Howard Hughes, which is 98 meters. But the Hughes H-4 has flown only once and has never transported cargo, unlike the An-225. The H-4 is in a museum in Oregon, the An-225 is in active service.

Transporting unusually heavy or bulky loads is the daily business of the An-225. With a maximum take-off mass of 640 tons, the aircraft developed for the transport of the Soviet space shuttle Buran is also the heaviest aircraft in the world. The An-225 first rose in December 1988 in the air. So far she has remained a unique piece.

“We have heaped up the fuselage, the wings and the tail for a second An-225 in Kiev,” said Andriy Blagovisniy, Commercial Director of Antonov Airlines, in an interview with Aerobuzz.de in Berlin. “But the market does not justify the construction of a second copy. We can handle all orders with this An-225.”

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The An-225 is (still) unique.

Antonov An-225 -The Largest,Heaviest Flying Aircraft In The World
Antonov An-225 -The Largest/photo credit: chinadaily.com.cn
The An-225 (license plate UR-82060) had come to the aviation fair in Berlin at very short notice. There she was one of the stars in the static display. From Berlin she flies to Leipzig, where she made her next cargo flight on May 8th. The An-225 has a maximum range of 8,315 nautical miles (15,400 kilometers). However, this value describes the transfer reach without freight. But with the full load of 250 tons, the bridgeable non-stop distance drops to 1,349 nautical miles (2,500 kilometers). That’s why she always has to intervene in long-distance transports of heavy loads.
The cargo hold of the giant looks like an empty factory building. The cargo compartment floor is made of riveted stainless steel plates, in which threads are embedded. In this thread, the crew screwed shackles for chains, with which the cargo is lashed. On the ceiling of the 43-meter-long cargo hold is an overhead crane with a lifting capacity of 30 tons attached, which provides valuable services during loading and unloading.

About a ladder, it’s in the cockpit.

Antonov An-225 -The Largest,Heaviest Flying Aircraft In The World
Antonov An-225 -The Largest/photo credit: chinadaily.com.cn
In the bow hangs an orange ladder under the ceiling, which is visibly made in lightweight construction. It forms the access to the upper deck, where the cockpit, the technical room, the storage space for the emergency equipment as well as the rest rooms for the crew and a kitchen are located.
More than two people are not allowed on the ladder at the same time. The upper deck is surprisingly narrow. Except in the cockpit, there is only in the emergency door a window, so that a little submarine atmosphere in the rooms of the upper deck arises.
The cockpit painted in the typical turquoise of Russian aircraft, on the other hand, looks like a dance hall compared to other aircraft – including the Boeing 747. No wonder, six crew members work here as well. In addition to the two pilots seated on the red and white Pepita fabric-covered seats, the seats for the navigator, the radio operator and two flight engineers are also occupied during a flight. The An-225 comes from a different technical and political era.
The cockpit windows are relatively small for an aircraft of this size. Since the aircraft bug had gone up during my cockpit visit, I could not judge how big the field of view of the crew is really outwardly. Thrust levers for the six Progress D-18 turbofans are numbered from left to right. The yellow lever heads for the number 1 and the number 6 are made larger than the levers for the number 2 to 4. Only when you have sat on the pilot’s seat, you can see how big the cockpit really is. I really have to lean in the middle to get to all the thrust levers.

The overhead panel is small.

Antonov An-225 -The Largest,Heaviest Flying Aircraft In The World
Antonov An-225 -The Largest/photo credit: chinadaily.com.cn
The control horn is designed in the form of a U. The commander has several buttons on the steering wheel on the left side. The overhead panel on the pilot is manageable small, no wonder, when behind the pilots even more crew members operate the systems and control.

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Behind the cockpit is on the right side of the fuselage an emergency exit door. In a small compartment next to it are the life rafts, and two ropes are attached right next to the door. They are to help the crew to leave the aircraft after an emergency landing. After all, the cockpit is about twelve meters above the ground. Without relegation you could not leave the aircraft unscathed.
I leave the upper deck via the lightweight ladder that leads into the impressively large cargo hold and speak with one of the flight engineers, who explains to me what duties he has as a crew member. To become a pilot on the An-225 you do not even have to have such a great flying experience. In addition to the ATPL (Pilot License for Commercial Aircraft Guides), it only takes 1,000 hours of flight time to prove that you have a ticket.
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