Antonov An-225 behemoth lands at MLB for special cargo operation
The Antonov An-225, the largest aircraft ever built, awaits cargo at Melbourne International Airport. The An-225 can carry a half-million pounds of cargo. Photo: Richard Ennis
MELBOURNE, Fla. (March 4, 2011) — Nearly as long as a football field and able to carry a half million pounds of cargo, the Antonov An-225 lumbered down the Melbourne International Airport runways for a landing this week.
The one-of-a-kind aircraft made a two-day stop at the airport to pick up an oversized cargo from a private contractor. It arrived Thursday and is scheduled to depart tomorrow.
“This certainly should put to rest any questions about the airport’s ability to handle large aircraft,” said Rick Cloutier, airport director of operations. “We can handle any aircraft in the world, including the largest.”
The Antonov An-225 is the largest aircraft ever built. It was designed for the Soviet Union’s space program as a carrier for the Buran space shuttle and first flew on Dec. 21, 1988. Two aircraft were ordered, but only one An-225 was ever completed.
The massive aircraft now operates as a long-haul freighter that can carry ultra-heavy and oversize freight, up to 550,000 pounds.
Just how big is the An-225?
The aircraft is 275 feet long, 290 feet from wingtip to wingtip and stands nearly 60 feet tall, with a maximum takeoff weight of about 1.32 million pounds. Its extra-long cargo hold can fit the complete assembled fuselage of a Boeing 737.
About Melbourne International Airport
Melbourne International Airport serves east Central Florida, including Brevard and Indian River counties, and is responsible for generating more than $1 billion per year in economic activity. The airport, which has three runways and a 200,000-square-foot terminal, currently serves Delta Air Lines, Delta Connection, Direct Air, US Airways, Baer Air and AirGate Aviation. For more information, visit www.mlbair.com.