Exactly a year on from the destruction of the Antonov An-225 Mriya, Microsoft Flight Simulator brings the legendary aircraft to the acclaimed flight simulation video game.
The new downloadable content (DLC), released on February 27, 2023, allows virtual pilots to experience the unique challenge of flying this giant aircraft while contributing to its revival. All proceeds from the $19.99 DLC will be donated to the rebuilding effort for the An-225 Mriya.
The virtual replica of the Antonov An-225 Mriya features highly detailed 3D models of the aircraft’s cockpit, cabin, and exterior, as well as accurate flight dynamics and avionics systems.
“Antonov took an active part in the digital re-creation of the An-225,” an Antonov spokesperson told AeroTime in an emailed statement. “The specialists had the opportunity to visit [chief pilot Dmytro] Antonov and several other Antonov pilots in Leipzig, where they flew the digital re-creation in Microsoft Flight Simulator. They made many useful remarks that helped in the final polish of the aircraft.”
“For sound, the original recordings of the An-225 from Antonov were received from Antonov, and [game designers] were allowed to record the An-124, which has the same engine,” Antonov added.
The An-225 Mriya and the An-124 Ruslan are both powered by the Progress D-18T turbofan, manufactured by the Ukrainian engine maker Motor Sich.
The tragic fate of An-225 Mriya
The An-225 Mriya (which means ‘Dream’ in Ukrainian) was developed as part of the Soviet space program to transport the space shuttle Buran as well as large rocket components. It flew for the first time in 1988. With six engines and 32 tires, its maximum take-off weight was up to 640 tons, making it the most powerful aircraft ever created and the largest operating.
When the Russian invasion of Ukraine started on February 24, 2022, the aircraft was stored at Hostomel Airport, the home base of Antonov Airlines. Located 30 kilometers from Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv, the airport was one of the first targets of the invading force, with Russian paratroopers unsuccessfully attempting to establish a bridgehead for more troops to be flown in. During the battle for Hostomel’s control, Mriya was critically damaged.
Before the war, a second unfinished airframe of the An-225, initially intended for ground testing, was stored at Antonov Company’s serial plant in Kyiv. Its current location is unknown.
Rebuilding the world’s largest aircraft
On March 24, 2022, Antonov CEO Sergii Bychkov announced the launch of a fundraiser to rebuild the An-225 Mriya aircraft. The manufacturer confirmed the beginning of design work in November 2022.
The reconstruction of the Mriya will rely primarily on the unfinished airframe, though work is ongoing to try and salvage parts from the destroyed aircraft, Antonov General Designer Vladislav Vlasik told the Ukrainian daily news program TSN.
“Now the design stage is underway, a preliminary technical view of the updated aircraft has already been formed,” Vlasik explained. “We understand that the An-225 aircraft must be modernized; that is, rebuilding it completely identically is inefficient and inappropriate.”
The Ukrainian state conglomerate and parent company of Antonov, Ukroboronprom, estimated that the restoration of the Antonov An-225 Mriya would cost more than $3 billion and take in excess of five years.
Since the invasion, Antonov has continued to operate An-124 freighters out of Leipzig airport in Germany. The company is also working on restoring Hostomel airport.