NATO reporting name: Cossack

TYPE: Six-turbofan heavy transport for internal/external payloads.

PROGRAMME: Design studies began mid-1985; prototype (SSSR-480182) made 75 min first flight "from 1,000 m (3,280 ft) runway" on 21 December 1988, three weeks after unveiling at Kiev; total of 106 records set on 22 March 1989 during 3½ h flight: taking off at 508,200 kg (1,120,370 lb), with 156,300 kg (344,576 lb) payload, flew 2,000 km closed circuit at 438.75 knots (813.09 km/h; 505.24 mph), with max altitude of 12,340 m (40,485 ft) en route; first flight carrying Buran orbiter on back made 13 May 1989 from Baikonur.

DESIGN FEATURES: First aircraft built to fly at gross weight exceeding one million pounds; designed to replace Myasishchev VM-T Atlant as external load-carrier for space orbiters, components of Energiya rocket launch vehicles and other outsize loads; based on An-124, with extended wings and lengthened fuselage to permit 50 per cent increase in max T-O weight and payload; basic cabin cross-section and visor type nose door unchanged; rear loading ramp/door deleted and rear fuselage reconfigured with twin fins and rudders on dihedral tailplane to avoid airflow problems when carrying piggyback loads; main landing gear uprated from five to seven pairs of wheels on each side; six engines instead of four, of same type; basically standard An-124 wings attached to new centre-section; anhedral on outer wings only; sweepback 35° on inboard half-span. 32° outboard; all tail surfaces sweptback.

FLYING CONTROLS: Fly-by-wire, with all surfaces hydraulically actuated; each wing has two-section aileron, three-section single-slotted Fowler flaps on outer panels and single section on centre-section, and six-section leading-edge flaps on outer panels only; eight airbrakes (inboard) and eight spoilers (outboard) on each wing upper surface and centre-section forward of flaps; no wing fences, vortex generators or tabs; two-section rudder and three-section elevator on each side; control runs (and other services) channelled along fuselage roof.

STRUCTURE: Generally as for An-124.

LANDING GEAR: Hydraulically retractable nosewheel type. Nose gear comprises two independent forward retracting and steerable twin-wheel units, side by side. Each main gear comprises seven independent inward retracting twin-wheel units, with tyres size 1,270 x 510 mm. Rear four pairs of wheels on each side are steerable. Each mainwheel bogie is enclosed by separate upper and lower doors when retracted. Nosewheel doors and lower mainwheel doors close when gear is extended. Aircraft can 'kneel', by retracting nosewheels and settling on two extendable 'feet', giving floor a slope to assist loading and unloading.

POWER PLANT: Six Zaporozhye/Lotarev D-18T turbolans, each rated at 229.5 kN (51,590 lb st) and each fitted with thrust reverser. Engine cowlings of glassfibre. All fuel in integral tanks in wings, including additional tanks in new centre-section. Max capacity estimated at well over 300,000 kg (661,375 lb).

ACCOMMODATION: Flight crew of six, in pairs, on flight deck, with place for loadmaster in lobby area. Pilot and co-pilot on fully adjustable seats that rotate for improved access. Two flight engineers, on wall-facing seats on starboard side. Navigator and communications specialist behind pilot, also on wall-facing seats. Rest area for relief crew slightly larger than that of An-124. Cabin for 60-70 persons above hold aft of wing carry-through. Primary access to flight deck via airstair door, with ladder extension, forward of wing on port side. Door to main hold aft of wing on starboard side. Hydraulically operated visor type upward hinged nose takes 7 min to open fully, with simultaneous extension of folding nose loading ramp. Completely unobstructed lower deck freight hold, 43.0 m (141 ft) long, has titanium floor, attached 'mobilely' to lower fuselage structure to accommodate changes of temperature, with rollgangs and retractable attachments for cargo tiedowns. Interior can be heated with warm air from a perforated tube above the floor on each side of hold. Internal loads can include vehicles, ground test and field maintenance equipment required by external loads. Two longitudinal mounting beams for external loads above wing centre-section. Small blister fairings forward of beams and forward of tailplane cover load attachments. Under consideration is a scheme to use the An-225 as a launcher for future space vehicles like the British Hotol or space combat aircraft.

AVIONICS: Generally similar to An-124, with comprehensive but conventional flight deck equipment including automatic flight control system and moving map display; no electronic flight displays. Two dielectric areas of nose visor enclose forward-looking weather radar and down-ward-looking ground mapping/navigation radar. Quadruple INS, plus Loran and Omega.