Antonov Airlines has safely transported medical supplies at short notice from Germany to Namibia on the world’s heaviest aircraft, the AN-225 “Mriya”. The mission was executed under the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) programme.
The AN-225, which has recently returned to commercial operation took off from its home base at Hostomel, Ukraine and flew to Leipzig-Halle airport, Germany to load the cargo destined for Windhoek, Namibia with one refuelling and rest stop in Accra, Ghana.
The AN-225 Mriya, which can transport up to 250 tonnes compliments Antonov Airlines’ fleet of seven AN-124-100s, two with a capacity of up to 150 tonnes.
The medical and humanitarian cargo, provided by German Military Medical Command, was a mixture of masks, anti-viral gowns, sick meds, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), transported on behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defence at the request of the Namibian Government.
Antonov Airlines frequently transports humanitarian aid on its AN-225 and fleet of seven AN-124-100s to rapidly support emergency services and governments by carrying volumes of cargo that cannot be matched by other aircraft.
The Antonov An-225 was originally designed to airlift the Energia rocket's boosters and the Buran-class orbiters for the Soviet space program. It was developed as a replacement for the Myasishchev VM-T. The An-225's original mission and objectives are almost identical to that of the United States' Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
In the late 1980s, the Soviet government was looking for a way to generate revenue from its military assets. In 1989, the Antonov Design Bureau set up a holding company as a heavy airlift shipping corporation under the name "Antonov Airlines", based in Kyiv, Ukraine, and operating from London Luton Airport in partnership with Air Foyle HeavyLift.
The company began operations with a fleet of four An-124-100s and three Antonov An-12s, but a need for aircraft larger than the An-124 became apparent in the late 1990s. In response, the original An-225 was re-engined, modified for heavy cargo transport, and placed back in service under the management of Antonov Airlines.