The world’s largest aircraft has touched down at Shannon Airport. The Antonov 225, which was built to carry a Soviet Union space shuttle between launch and landing sites, landed for a transit stop at 2.45am Sunday morning from Bangor International Airport, Maine, US. The aircraft is due to depart at 10pm for Châteauroux Airport, France.
It has a wingspan wider than the Croke Park pitch and, from nose to tail, is more than one and a half times the length of an Olympic swimming pool. Due to the length of its runway – the longest in Ireland – Shannon is the only Irish Airport that the airplane, known as Myria (Ukrainian for “dream”) has landed at. “It’s an incredible aircraft and when you see it on the taxiway here and can put its size into perspective, it’s almost unbelievable that it can get up into the skies, let alone be as graceful when it’s up there,” said Niall Maloney, Shannon Airport Operations Director. “Last time it was here, in 2013, it landed during daylight hours and there were hundreds if not a couple of thousand people who came to see it.
People stood on the roofs of vans just to be able to video it landing. “This time around it arrived in the middle of the night and we still had up to 20 cars loads of people in the viewing area ahead of arrival. There was only one Antonov 225 made and this is it so when it comes here people are very keen to see it. We love having it here. The excitement around its presence is great and creates a great buzz. We have people coming and going all day to see it.”
Antonov 225 facts:
It is nicknamed Mriya – Ukrainian for ‘dream’
The design is based around its smaller sibling, the Antonov 124
It is made up of seven MILLION pounds of metal
It stands almost seven stories high
It has six engines and 32 tyres
It broke 109 world records within months of its first flight
The jet has the capacity to carry 1,500 people, almost three times the capacity of the world’s largest passenger jet
It was idle for eight years following the end of the Cold War due to lack of finance but has re-emerged as the world’s largest cargo carrier