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The world's largest aircraft, the Antonov 225 pictured on the runway at Shannon airport. Photograph by John Kelly.

World’s largest aircraft at Shannon

THE world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov AN-225 touched down at Shannon Airport this afternoon from China carrying a cargo consignment for distribution in the Irish retail sector.

With the longest runway in Ireland at 3,199m, Shannon Airport is the only airport in Ireland capable of accommodating the Antonov AN-225.

The giant plane has landed at Shannon five times in the recent past, the last time in June 2020 when it carried the single largest consignment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be flown into Ireland on a single flight. At that time 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 Operations & Commercial Director said: “With a wingspan 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 plane ever made. It is wonderful to see the plane flying in commercial cargo, a further sign of a recovery in our economy.

“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. The plane also attracts significant interest with aviation enthusiasts from around the country who travel here in large numbers to view this unique aircraft,” he said.

The six-storey-high, 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.

The Antonov is due to depart Shannon at 9.00am on Wednesday.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.
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