In the weeks before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the AN-225 Facebook Groups were full of excited plane spotters posting photos and videos of the Mriya as she came into land in various
airports across the world. Her last ever flight took place on 05FEB22 from Billund, Denmark, to Ukraine's Hostomel Airport. Yet, on 27FEB22, following Russian attacks on Hostomel Airport, rumors
began that the AN225 had been destroyed, and on 04MAR22, this news was confirmed along with emerging devastating pictures of the world’s largest plane, crushed.
In the face of all the human suffering and death brought about by this hideous and ongoing war crime, the outpouring of concern at the fate of the AN-225 from the very start of the war, smacked of a distinct lack of sensitivity. At the same time, it underlined how much of an icon the Mriya was, and yet another stoic symbol of Ukrainian strength and resilience. The pride of the nation, the Antonov AN-225 had flown low over Kyiv late last August in an air display celebrating the country’s 30 years of independence. Now, that icon appeared damaged beyond all repair.
Couldn’t Mriya have flown away beforehand?
Antonov Chief Pilot, Dmytro Antonov posts daily comments on the war and answers questions regarding the AN-225 in blunt and extensive YouTube videos. On 23MAR22, he posted an answer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iyH_6Gt-XI) to the outcry his previous comments had caused within Antonov, as to why the Mriya had not been moved to safety: he had criticized a lack of top management decision to actively move planes and parts to Leipzig when the risk of war was known, and alleged not only that Antonov management had Russian affiliations, but also that it had left for Leipzig and was no longer in the country. A general statement was issued by the “Flight staff and employees of ATP SE ANTONOV”, strongly denying his claims and asking what he had been doing in the run-up to the war, pointing out that he would have been in a position to arrange a flight out on 23FEB22.
Yes, but it didn’t
Having flown the final flight on 05FEB22, he says, he then took his annual qualification training courses over a period of 10 working days, after which he flew LNZ-LEJ-GML with an AN-74 on 17-18FEB22, and then worked remotely. On 23FEB22, all aircraft crews for AN-28, -26, 74- and -225 were poised and ready to undertake any task, if need be. However, there was an issue with the Mriya. Having landed, fully operational, on 05FEB22, one of its engines had been removed around 07FEB22, and mounted on an AN-124 Ruslan which was due to fly commercially. “Since engines are not repaired very quickly, in order to ensure continuous operation of our airline’s aircraft, a serviceable engine is removed from one aircraft which, for example, is not needed at the moment,” he explains. By the late evening of 23FEB22, however, that engine had been reinstalled on the AN-225, and the plane had 70 tons of fuel, ready to fly to LEJ the next day. The flight would, unfortunately, never take place.
Appeal for funding to recreate the AN-225
“To whom it may concern,” read a post on Antonov’s Facebook page on 25MAR22 (https://www.facebook.com/antonov.company/posts/to-whom-it-may-concern-appeal-of-the-antonov-company-to-the-international-aviati/4684324955028430/ ), with an impassioned appeal for funding “to prevent the complete irretrievable loss of the legendary aircraft as one of the symbols of modernity and to begin the revival of the AN-225 Mriya transport aviation flagship,” and listing numerous international bank account details for those willing to donate. Titled “APPEAL OF THE ANTONOV COMPANY TO THE INTERNATIONAL AVIATION COMMUNITY AND TO ALL NON-INDIFFERENT PEOPLE OF THE CIVILIZED WORLD”, the post called on “citizens of all countries of the world” and underlined Mriya’s “special place” in the aviation world, its records over the past 34 years of operation, and that “Indeed, the aircraft has become a legend, a symbol of the highest technical achievements of the world aviation community of the XX and XXI centuries, a pearl of aircraft engineering.”
“To all unindifferent people”
This national treasure must be restored: “There is every reason for this - design, scientific and technical documentation, and most important - availability, great desire and inspiration of the ANTONOV team. Unfortunately, at a difficult time for Ukraine and ANTONOV Company there is not enough money to solve this problem. We propose to establish an International Fund for the Revival of the An-225 Mriya transport aircraft. Please, credit the funds with purpose of payment: “Non-repayable financial aid” to the following bank details, it concludes with the list of accounts, and appealing to “heads of states and governments of all countries of the world; world companies in the area of aircraft and aviation components production; foreign partner companies” involved in developing and supplying ANTONOV products, “management of banks and other financial institutions of the world; fans and enthusiasts of aviation; the entire world aviation community, including non-governmental organizations” and, finally, “to all unindifferent [sic] people who admired the greatness of the Ukrainian "Mriya".
Hopes and dreams
The appeal ends with the words: “The ANTONOV Company hopes for a powerful support of the AN-225 "Mriya" aircraft revival project and expresses its biggest gratitude and understanding that the project is aimed at restoring the aircraft as a symbol of the world's highest scientific and technological achievements in modern aircraft construction.”
Similarly, Dmytro Antonov, who, in another video, calls for the confiscation of three Volga-Dnepr Antonovs currently parked in Leipzig, and that they be returned to Antonov as part-retribution for the loss of the AN-225, also has a vision that the AN-225 will return: “I hope that on the 35th anniversary of the Independence of Ukraine, we will be able to fly over Kyiv already on the new Mriya. I really believe in this.”
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