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World's largest aircraft lands at Shannon Airport with PPE equipment

The Antonov AN-225, standing six stories tall and with a wing span wider than Croke Park's pitch, landed at Shannon this afternoon

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Eight-year-old Colin Slattery from Lissycasey Co Clare, gets a close-up view of the Antonov AN-225 at Shannon Airport today. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

Eight-year-old Colin Slattery from Lissycasey Co Clare, gets a close-up view of the Antonov AN-225 at Shannon Airport today. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

Piggy-back? An Antonov 225 gives a lift to a Space Shuttle

Piggy-back? An Antonov 225 gives a lift to a Space Shuttle

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Eight-year-old Colin Slattery from Lissycasey Co Clare, gets a close-up view of the Antonov AN-225 at Shannon Airport today. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

With 32 wheels, six engines and an 88.4-metre wingspan, the Antonov AN-225 is a beast of an aircraft, and today it touched down at Shannon Airport.

The world's largest commercial plane was carrying Irelands’ largest consignment of PPE in a single flight - a shipment from China.

“With a wing span wider than the Croke Park pitch, the Antonov 225 stands alone as the largest and most powerful planes ever made," said Niall Maloney, Shannon Airport’s Director of Airport Operations.

And the stats keep coming... with the longest runway in Ireland at 3,199m, Shannon is the only Irish airport capable of accommodating it.

The plane has landed there four times; the last time in 2015.

The Antonov contained almost 900,000 medical gowns for distribution to frontline staff fighting Covid-19 in Ireland, a consignment managed and co-ordinated by Shannon-based West Coast Aviation and its partner Metistechnicall on behalf of the HSE.

The cargo took 20 men, on shift rotation, 15 hours to hand load 6,249 boxes weighing 18kgs each, Shannon Airport said in a statement.

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The Antonov AN-225 was carrying Irelands’ largest consignment of PPE in a single flight. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

The Antonov AN-225 was carrying Irelands’ largest consignment of PPE in a single flight. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

The Antonov AN-225 was carrying Irelands’ largest consignment of PPE in a single flight. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

“Shannon Airport is proud to have played its part in bringing this vital cargo to Ireland. Our airport staff have been working on the front line ensuring the safe arrival of PPE cargo flights since the start of the crisis," Maloney added.

"We love having the Antonov here. It’s an incredible aircraft and when you see it on the taxiway, it dwarfs anything else on the airfield.

"When you take its enormous 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,” he said.

Engineered in 1988 for the Russian Space Programme, the Ukrainian-built Antonov AN-225 is the only one of its kind, and capable of carrying 640,000kg on take-off.

It is known as the ‘Mriya’ - the Ukrainian word for dream.

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