The world’s largest plane, the Antonov An-225 Mriya, has arrived at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Designed in the 1980s, initially for the task of transporting the Buran spacecraft, it is the longest and heaviest ever built, measuring 276 feet 7 inches (84 metres) and with a maximum takeoff weight of 1.41 million pounds (640,000 kilos). If you thought the Airbus A380 was about as big as aircraft got, or perhaps the Boeing Dreamliner, you’ve got another thing coming!
Enter the Antonov 225 Mriya. Designed in the mid-1980s in Ukraine for the purposes of carrying the Soviet Union’s Buran space shuttle between launch and landing sites, the Antonov is the largest, longest and heaviest plane ever built. It has a wingspan of 88.4m, is 84m long and 18.1m high.
The plane is propelled along by no less than six turbofan engines, and when it comes in to land a full 32 wheels have to support its weight. In other words, it’s pretty much unimaginably large. So, it really is no surprise that plane spotters from across the UK (and probably the world) flocked to Shannon Airport in Ireland on Sunday to witness the Antonov, now a cargo plane, come in to land for a pit stop en route from Bangor in Wales to Châteauroux Airport in France. UTV Ireland reports that due to the fact that with its 3.2km runway, Shannon Airport is the only one in Ireland able to accommodate the massive plane. Niall Maloney, Shannon Airport Operations Director, said that the Antonov’s landing had drawn a good few carloads of people, many of whom shared their experiences on social media.