This information was announced at the opening of an exhibition on the An-225 Mriya at Leipzig/Halle airport in Germany. This second An-225 would use the second fuselage and other parts built up to 1994, as well as parts taken directly from the An-225 destroyed at Hostomel at the start of the war in Ukraine.
A promise kept?
On May 19, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announced his intention to build a new An-225. By this time, Russian troops had been withdrawing from the Kiev region to Kharkiv for just over a month, abandoning a certain amount of equipment on the ground in the process. However, these troops had been redeployed to eastern Ukraine, and the situation in the Donbass seemed very tense. So, this announcement seemed more geared towards Ukrainian morale, or perhaps a promise to rebuild Ukraine once the war was over.
However, on November 8, as an exhibition on the An-225 Mriya was being unveiled at Leipzig/Halle airport (Saxony, Germany), Ievgen Gavrylov, CEO of the Antonov company, told the German newspaper Bild that construction of a second An-225 was currently underway. The latter gave some details:
"Work on the machine is taking place in a secret location. Parts of the bombed-out machine and new parts will be added to the second AN-225 ever completed."I. Gavrylov
- the place of assembly is kept secret in order to avoid further destruction
- the structure of the second never-completed aircraft is used as the basic structure
- parts of Mryia (the destroyed An-225) will be recovered for use on the second An-225 (30% of the aircraft is built)
- the cost of the project is estimated at 500 million euros (i.e. 300 million less than announced by the Ukrainian President on May 19)
He also announced that the company is carrying out very precise searches within Antonov/Hostomel airport to find forgotten parts or to see which parts damaged on Mryia can be recycled after repair to be added to the second An-225.
He also points out that the factory launch date for the second An-225 is dependent on the end of the war: "But the sooner the war is over, the sooner we can say that."
Still no visual confirmation
After the Ukrainian President's announcement, it's now a second official confirmation on the construction of a second An-225. However, there is still no image of the second fuselage in a hangar, with technicians and engineers working on it, to definitively confirm the project. If this is indeed the case, it will be a complicated task for the Ukrainians, as most aerospace industrial facilities have been bombed, especially in Kiev. This is also the case for Antonov Airport, the base of Antonov Airlines (article on the damage to Antonov Airport and the aircraft still present).
Inversely, as announced by Gavrylov, some of the parts of this second An-225 are available but incomplete. For example, the largest part, the aircraft's fuselage, has already been built, but it's only the bulk of the work: there's no wiring, and this structure hasn't undergone any maintenance since 1994. The horizontal stabilizers, wings and nose are also said to have been built and stored in an airline hangar. But here too, the condition of these parts is unknown (they may have been stored in a hangar that was bombed by the Russians).
In any case, we'll have to wait until the end of the war in Ukraine to see an An-225 fly again. It should be noted that this project - if successfully launched - is also an opportunity to upgrade the An-225 model to current technologies. It also remains to be seen whether Antonov plans to partner with foreign aerospace companies to add cutting-edge technologies to an aircraft originally designed at the end of the Soviet Union. For example, the addition of electric actuators in place of conventional hydraulic actuators would not only save weight, but also maintenance costs for this future cargo plane.
With the war in Ukraine, Antonov Airlines has moved its operations to its rear base in Leipzig/Halle, from where the company's An-124s now take off (article on the subject).
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