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NEWS Last modified on May 21, 2013

Shannon Airport welcomes world's largest aircraft

Shannon Airport today welcomed the world’s largest aircraft as the Antonov An-225 Mriya (Dream) made a brief pit stop in Ireland en route from Bangor Airport to the Ukraine.

The giant aircraft, which arrived in Shannon for a standard crew rest period, attracted large numbers of plane-spotters who learned of its arrival via social media and blog sites over recent days.

The airport's 3,200m long runway meant that it was able to accomodate the behemoth – built to transport the Buran space shuttle for the Soviet space programme and since transformed into the world’s largest freighter aircraft – which weighs the equivalent of 220 average sized cars.

Today it is used to transport outsize shiopments ranging from rail locomotives and wind-turbines to chimney ducts!

It has so far set in excess of 250 aviation records, which include in June 2010 when it carried the world’s longest piece of air cargo – 42m test wind turbine blades – which were flown from China to Denmark.

Shannon Airport's head of operations Niall Maloney, said that the Antonov 225 has to be seen to be believed. 

“It is an unbelievable aircraft that almost defies the law of physics, and when you see it coming in it is a fantastic sight. We've had it here twice before, but the interest in this flying machine never diminishes. 

“There was a lot of talk across the internet and social media about its arrival over the last 24 hours so we weren’t surprised to see people here waiting but were surprised to see so many. It’s clearly an aviation enthusiast’s dream."

The aircraft is due to depart in the early hours of Thursday morning.

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