Hundreds of plane spotters from all over the country gathered in Shannon last night as the world’s largest airplane departed Shannon Airport for France.
The Antonov 225 ‘Mriya’, meaning ‘Dream’, was designed and built by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Ukraine and first flew on December 21st 1988.
The 6-engined monster, with its 32 wheels, is now operated by Antonov Airlines, the transport arm of the Antonov Company, and holds over 300 world records for transporting oversized loads.
Because of its size, the An-225 requires a runway of between 3,000 and 3,500 metres in length to take off making Shannon’s, at 3199m (10,486ft), the only one in Ireland capable of handling the plane.
The 6-storey high jet was designed mainly to transport the Russian space shuttle “Buran” to it’s launch site. The shuttle was carried externally on top of the fuselage.
With the end of the Buran space programme in 1994, the An-225 was taken out of service and left to rust at an airfield near Kiev. In May 2001, following a $20m refurbishment programme, the 225 flew again.
Niall Consgrove captured the below video of the Antonov’s take off from Shannon.