Antonov 225: World's largest plane to pay a visit to Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport will welcome the world’s largest airplane this weekend, as the Antonov 225 touches down this Sunday for a rare visit to Ireland.
Likely to attract hundreds of plane spotters from all over the country, the plane dubbed Mriya, meaning ‘Dream’, is expected to land in the early hours of Sunday morning and will remain grounded for about 24 hours.
Built in 1988, 32-wheeled beast requires a runway of between 3,000 and 3,500 metres to take off – making Shannon, at 3200 metres, the only Airport in Ireland capable of handling the six-story high jet.
The Antonov 225 was designed and built by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Ukraine, and is now operated by Antonov Airlines, the transport arm of the company.
The six-engine jet was intended to transport the Russian space shuttle Buran to its launch site but was taken out of service when the space programme was ended in 1994.
In May 2001, following a €18 million refurbishment programme, the 225 flew again.
The 225 previously visited the mid-west airport in October 2006 and May 2013 when thousands of people blocked country roads to get a look at the plane.
With a wingspan of 88.4 metres, the 225 is 27 metres wider either side than the runway at Shannon, which is 61 metres.