While the Russian army's attacks continue unabated, especially in eastern Ukraine, plans are being discussed in Kyiv to rebuild the iconic AN-225 "Mriya" (Dream), which was destroyed by Putin's soldiers on 27FEB22. According to initial statements by Kyiv government officials, such a project is likely to take three to five years, at a cost of more than USD 3 billion.
How realistic is it that the reconstruction will take place - or better: a new AN-225 is built from scratch? In view of the current warfare, the daily reports of the fighting in the south and
southeast of Ukraine and the numerous human rights crimes committed by Russian military forces in Ukraine overshadow this discussion. Nevertheless, it is being conducted very seriously indeed,
next to the daily war reports.
Two options are feasible
As pros and cons are exchanged, two options emerge: a restored AN-225 or a completely new aircraft built from scratch. For the second, more likely alternative, the fuselage of a planned but never completed second "Mriya" would be available. Undamaged parts of the recently destroyed forerunner model could be fitted into this hull, which is still intact and thus usable. However, contemporary avionics would have to be completely redeveloped in both cases. In addition to basic design tasks, precisely fitting components and state-of-the-art electronic instruments would also have to be selected and procured in international cooperation.
Pipedream or no pipedream, that is the question
The fact that the Ukrainian government and the state-owned Antonov corporation are serious about restoring or building a new AN-225, is shown by the appointment of a special commission by the state corporation, Ukroboronprom. This is a widely ramified conglomerate that includes 123 state-owned companies and 9 joint stock corporations. The industrial giant, formed in 2010, also includes the well-known aircraft manufacturer, Antonov, as well as the affiliated Antonov Serial Production Plant and the Kyiv Aircraft Repair Plant. Given the size of Ukroboronprom and the immense state steering influence, the AN-225 plans are certainly not castles in the air.
For the Ukrainian government, creating a new AN-225 would be an important symbol promising a better future. This was also pointed out by former Antonov CEO, Serhiy Bychkov, in a recent statement. “Despite these hard times, the Antonov team is resolute in their belief that the irreversible loss of the legendary aircraft as one of the symbols of modernity cannot be allowed, and that work must start on the revival of the flagship transport aircraft, AN-225 Mriya,” he emphasized. In his appeal, the executive proposed to establish an International Fund to raise sufficient money to start working on the project once circumstances allow.
Once an iconic freighter, now a wreck
It was his last pledge for a new AN-225 since he was kicked out shortly thereafter. The reproach: he had not taken warnings about the imminent attack by the Russian military seriously enough and missed transferring the large freighter to a European country in time. Sufficient fuel was on board, also the crews were ready.
Experts now doubt that the burnt-out wreckage can be repaired because the damage is too severe. The attack destroyed most of the cockpit, 3 of the 6 engines of the aircraft, parts of the fuselage, and one of its wings.
There have already been ambitions to build another AN-225 or even several. In 2016, Antonov signed a cooperation agreement with the Chinese company, Aerospace Industry Corporation of China (AICC), for the joint construction of another AN-225, which was then to be operated by AICC. It was also to be licensed to produce further replicas of the large freighter. However, the project was eventually stopped by the Ukrainian government, which feared a sell-off of the national aviation industry resulting from the pact, predominantly benefitting China.
Antonov hit by accidents
Last Friday (22APR22) an AN-26 crashed in the southeast of Ukraine, killing one and injuring two. The Regional Military Administration spoke of a ‘technical flight’ when the plane hit an electric pole and its engine caught fire at 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT). The State Emergency Service of Ukraine and rescue teams have rushed to the crash site.
Two months earlier, on 24FEB22, another AN-26 crashed near Kyiv, killing five of the 14 people on board the aircraft. The An-26 is a twin-engine turboprop cargo and utility aircraft built by plane maker Antonov from 1969 to 1986.
On 25SEP21, the series of accidents began with the crash of an AN-26 of the Ukrainian Air Force with 26 of the 27 people on board became victims. They were mostly cadets from the Ivan Kozhedub National Air Force University.
We welcome and publish comments from all authenticated users