An-225 Mriya takes to the sky after seven years

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The only example of a 600t Antonov An-225 Mriya heavy lifter performed a 30min flight from Gostomel aerodrome near Kiev on 7 May, seven years after it last flew.

Ten further flights of the six-engined aircraft are to be made before its scheduled appearance at the Paris air show next month. By year-end the An-225 should have finished the certification trials that were 90% completed before the aircraft was grounded. This occurred after 347 flights and 200 flight hours. The aircraft was originally built to carry Russia's Buran spacecraft before the rival to the US Shuttle was cancelled.

Following certification the AN-225 will enter revenue service, probably with Antonov Airlines. Making the aircraft airworthy has taken six months and required $20 million, the money being provided by Antonov and engine-maker Motor-SICh. The upgraded aircraft has new avionics and improved D-18T engines to enable it to meet noise regulations.

An offer of financial support from Volga-Dnepr Airlines, the largest An-124 user, was rejected. The airline's general director Aleksei Isaikin says he believes the growing market for outsized cargo conveyance will justify the use of the An-225 with its 250t payload. Mriya's revival is aimed at growing need for lift capability for spacecraft and industrial turbines, which already accounts for a significant share of the An-124 workload.

The original Mriya made its maiden flight on 21 December 1988. Work on a second airframe halted in 1994, but according to Antonov is now being resumed.