Kyiv/Leipzig – The world’s largest cargo plane, the Antonov “AN-225”, was completely destroyed by Russian missiles in the battle for Kiev’s “Hostomel” airport in the first days of the war. And apparently it could have been saved.
Because according to media reports, the giant aircraft, also known as “Mriya” (German: dream), which only existed once, was to be relocated to Leipzig immediately before the start of the war, where other machines from the Ukrainian airline are already parked. But the rescue flight to Germany failed for reasons that are still unclear.
Now the Ukrainian state-owned company Ukroboronprom has reacted and fired the general director of the Antonov airline Sergei Bychkov, apparently blaming him for the omission.
On the The company’s Facebook page says the reason for the decision is being kept secret, but the dismissal is related to internal investigations following media reports of the AN-225’s destruction.
Leipzig was to become a haven
Leipzig should have become a haven for the world’s largest cargo plane. At least that’s what regular pilot Dmytro Antonov (58) claimed, who, by the way, just happens to have the same name as airline founder Oleg Antonov.
Because: “On January 26, there was an appeal to top management, both from NAMSA, NATO’s logistics service provider, and from Antonov Salis GmbH,” said the flight captain in a video published on YouTube. “All aircraft, personnel and spare parts should be brought to safety in Leipzig. There was no decision as of February 23.”
He denied claims that the AN-225 was not airworthy. “I flew with her on February 5th. After that engines were serviced. On the evening of February 23, she was ready to fly to Leipzig with 70 tons of fuel.”
The next day the base came under fire. He claims that the reason the rescue operation was prevented was that the top managers of the Ukrainian company had ties with Russia. The Antonov Company has not yet responded to a BILD inquiry about the allegations.
Rebuilding the giant plane would cost $3 billion, for which the company is now collecting donations. However, the sacked pilot warns: “Of course you can deposit your money, but at your own risk…”
Antonov 225 landed in Leipzig 32 times
The Antonov 225 has landed in Leipzig 32 times since 2008, more than anywhere else in Germany. She was at Saxony’s largest airport for the last time on January 18th. In November 2021, the machine was still 3.5 million corona rapid tests deliveredt.
On February 25, in the first week of the war, two Ukrainian Antonovs landed in Leipzig. They came from Austria and have been standing on apron 1 in the south ever since. The three Antonovs that you can see from the Autobahn have not been moved for months and will now have to stand still.
The “Mriya” was the world’s longest and heaviest aircraft used and with a wingspan of 88 meters after “Stratolaunch Roc” and the “Hughes H-4 Hercules”, nicknamed “Spruce Goose” (in German Fichtengans), also the one with the largest wingspan. However, the latter two planes had only one flight.