The world’s largest plane – destroyed in the Russian invasion of Ukraine – is being rebuilt in a secret location at a cost of half a billion euros.
The Antonov AN-225 – dubbed Mriya, or dream in Ukrainian, with a football pitch-sized wingspan – was left a burned-out wreck in a battle for control of an airfield near Kyiv on 24th February.
Now Antonov General Director Eugene Gavrylov, 42, has told German media that a replacement AN-225 has already been 30 per cent rebuilt.
It is understood that the new aircraft will be made of parts salvaged from the destroyed plane added to a part-built but never finished second AN-225.
Speaking at the opening of an exhibition at Leipzig-Halle Airport, in Germany, on 7th November he said: “Here the memory of you should be kept alive internationally and we plan to sell merchandise at Leipzig/Halle Airport, such as models of the AN-225 and pictures, in order to bring in additional money and win sponsors.”
He added: “The work on the machine is going on in a secret place. Parts of the bombed machine and new parts will be added to the never-completed second AN-225.”
The opening of the exhibition called ‘Light and Shadow: The Antonov Story’ was attended by Ukraine’s new ambassador to Germany, Oleksii Makeiev, 46, who was reportedly thankful that Ukrainian aircraft, painted in the Ukrainian national colours of blue and yellow, were given protection and shelter in Leipzig.
Goetz Ahmelmann, CEO of Mitteldeutsche Flughafen AG, a public German company that handles flight operations at Dresden and Leipzig airports, was also in attendance and he said: “When we heard about the exhibition project, we were immediately enthusiastic. Leipzig/Halle Airport and Antonov Airlines have had a very close partnership for many years.
“We work together very trustingly, have solved a large number of tasks together and moved a lot of freight. Antonov Airlines and our airport have grown together. That’s why there is hardly a better place for this exhibition and we are very pleased that we can present it here with our Ukrainian partners.”
Previously, there had been talks of up to three billion euros in total costs. But this would have been for a completely new plane built from scratch.
A fund has already been set up to raise money to rebuild the wrecked plane. It is still being examined which other parts of the giant freighter, which was initially believed to be completely lost, can be recycled.
Ukrainian conglomerate Ukroboronprom, which is made up of 123 state-owned companies, including Antonov, among numerous other assets, sacked the previous Director of Antonov – Serhiy Bychkov – over his apparent failure to rescue the aircraft before it was largely destroyed on the first day of Putin’s war.
Newsflash obtained a statement from Ukroboronprom in March that said (in English): “On March 29, Ukroboronprom removed Serhiy Bychkov from his office of General Director of the Antonov State Enterprise, which is part of the State Concern.
“The reason for the dismissal was an official investigation into verification of certain facts published in the media.
“Yuriy Husyev, General Director of Ukroboronprom, appealed to law enforcement bodies.
“Ukroboronprom is assisting the Security Service of Ukraine in elucidating the events of possible violations.”
The massive Antonov An-225, of which only one has ever been made, was reportedly set to be relocated to Leipzig, Germany, before the war began, where other Antonov aircraft had already been parked, according to German media.
The world’s largest cargo plane was set to be relocated to an airfield near the German city, according to pilot Dmytro Antonov, 58.
But the rescue flight did not take place, with the large aircraft instead falling foul of Putin’s troops in the early stages of Russia’s invasion, when Moscow tried – and failed spectacularly – to take Kyiv.
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