Antonov, Ukroboronprom and Aerospace Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) have signed a co-operation agreement on the An-225 Mriya heavy transport aircraft programme, which will see a second An-225 completed and series production undertaken in China.
Antonov said the agreement, signed on 30 August, will initially involve completion of the unfinished second An-225, which has been stored by Antonov in its Kiev factory for many years. It will then be delivered to AVIC.
In the second stage of the joint effort, series production of the An-225 will be undertaken in China, under licence from Antonov. AVIC is planning two production sites, one in Luzhou, Sichuan Province, and the other in Guigang, west of Guangzhou. Formal contracts will be signed to cover both stages of the new joint programme. The first aircraft could come off the Chinese production line in early 2019.
The An-225 is the largest transport aircraft ever to have flown. It is powered by six Progress D-18T engines and is derived from the smaller An-124. It was originally designed to carry the Soviet Buran space shuttle and first flew in 1988. One aircraft was completed and a second partially completed.
The single flying An-225 is chartered by Antonov Airlines to fly cargo throughout the world – the aircraft has demonstrated a world-record payload of 253 tonnes.