HYDERABAD: The world’s largest cargo aircraft – Antonov An-225 ‘Mriya’ (Dream in Russian) is scheduled to make its first landing in India on May 13 at the Rajiv Gandhi International airport here in Hyderabad. Antonov An-225 has twice the wing area of a Boeing 747. Normally, only the nose gear of an aircraft is steerable. On the An-225 there are 20 steerable wheels, four in the nose gear and 16 at the rear of the 28-wheel main gear.
The Ukraine-based, Antonov Company’s aircraft has a wide body, powered by six turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes. It also has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service. Specially built to undertake transcontinental route airlifting load between 180-230 tonnes, the aircraft will be coming into Hyderabad from Turkmenistan and will be making an overnight technical halt here at Hyderabad.
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The development comes close on the heels of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence signing a strategic partnership agreement last month with Antonov company of Ukraine for the assembly, manufacture, and maintenance and repair of is platforms in India, both for the commercial and the military market.
“Antonov is a world leader in transport aircraft design and manufacture, exemplified by An-225 we see today. Their technical expertise with Reliance’s business innovation is sure to translate ‘Make in India’ into a huge success,” Matheswaran said at a press conference.
India is said to require over 200 medium lift turbofan aircraft valued at Rs. 35,000 crore, which is the backbone of all tactical transport support of the air force, army and para-military forces.
Reliance Defence together with Antonov would jointly address various requirements including 50-80 seat passenger aircraft programme of the HAL, in its basic configuration and in all its variants such as transport, maritime patrol and other military roles, the company said in a statement.
Why Landing in Hyderabad?
The idea behind bringing the aircraft here is to showcase the technological capability of Ukraine-based Antonov and also give the aircraft a stop-over for fuel, said Air Marshal (Retd) M Matheswaran, president of the Aerospace Business of Reliance Defence Ltd, which has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Ukranian company for assembly, manufacture and MRO of aircraft based on Antonov platforms in India for commercial and military markets.
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