World’s largest aircraft, the Antonov 225, touches down at Shannon Airport with PPE equipment

Irelands’ largest consignment of PPE in a single flight lands at Shannon

Wednesday 10th June 2020:  The world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov AN-225 touched down at Shannon Airport today from China carrying the single largest consignment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be flown into Ireland on a single flight.

The Antonov AN-225 contained almost 900,000 medical gowns for distribution in Ireland. It is the second plane carrying medical gowns to arrive in Shannon in the past few days. A Boeing 737 landed in Shannon earlier in the week on Monday 8th June.

Both consignments were managed and co-ordinated by Shannon based West Coast Aviation and their partner Metistechnicall on behalf of the HSE. The entire consignment of over one million medical gowns between the two flights will be distributed in Ireland to front line staff in the fight against COVID-19.

The AN-225 took 20 men, on shift rotation, 15 hours to hand load 6,249 boxes weighing 18 kgs each.

Speaking about the Antonov 225, Niall Maloney, Shannon Airport’s Director of Airport Operations said: “With a wing span wider than the Croke Park pitch and, from nose to tail, over one and a half times the length of an Olympic swimming pool, the Antonov 225 stands alone as the largest and most powerful planes ever made.

“Shannon Airport is proud to have played its part in bringing this vital cargo to Ireland. Our airport staff have been working on the front line ensuring the safe arrival of PPE cargo flights since the start of the crisis.  We love having the Antonov here. It’s an incredible aircraft and when you see it on the taxiway here, it dwarfs anything else on the airfield. When you take its enormous size into perspective, it’s almost unbelievable that it can get up into the skies, let alone be as graceful when it’s up there,” he said.

With the longest runway in Ireland at 3,199m, Shannon Airport is the only airport capable of accommodating the Antonov AN-225. The plane has landed at Shannon four times, the last time was on the 12th April 2015.

Six-storey-high, the Ukrainian-built Antonov AN-225 is the only one of its kind. It has a wingspan of 88 metres, 32 wheels and is capable of carrying 640,000 tonnes on take-off. Known as the ‘Mriya’ the Russian word for dream.

Shannon Airport has remained open as an essential service throughout the pandemic handling the delivery of multiple consignments of PPE since the virus took hold in Ireland.

Some facts on the Antonov (Mriya) AN-225:

  • The Antonov AN-225 is the biggest commercial cargo aircraft in the world.
  • It’s the longest-bodied, longest-winged and heaviest operational plane in the world. Its cargo compartment is 43 m by 6.4 m by 4.4 m – big enough to hold 50 cars. And there is only one operational Antonov An-225 in the world!
  • Manufactured in 1988 for the Russian Space Programme.
  • It stands over six stories high
  • It comprises 7 million lbs of metal
  • It has six engines and 32 tyres
  • It broke 109 world records within months of its first flight
  • Six Turbofan Engines
  • Maximum take-off weight 640,000 kgs
  • Max lift Load: 250,000 kgs
  • Capacity: 1,200 Cubic metres
  • Wingspan: 88 metres (The width of Croke Park is also 88 metres)
  • Length: 84 metres
  • Weight: 640 tonnes (same weight as nine Boeing 737 aircraft)
  • The flight route of the Antonov: China to Kazakhstan – Baku, Azerbaijan – Shannon Airport
  • Cargo on Board the Antonov 225: medical gowns
  • Boxes on Board the Antonov: 6,249 boxes with 140 medical gowns per box
  • Quantity of PPE on board the Antonov 225: 874,860.00 
  • Quantity of PPE on board the Boeing 737 (part of the same consignment which arrived in Shannon on Monday 8th June: 126,000.00