A few minutes past midnight on Thursday, the deafening roar of six mighty engines on the Antonov An-225 Mriya could throw many out of their beds in Hyderabad.

The An-225 Mriya (Ukrainian for ‘dream’) will halt at the GMR-owned R.G.I Shamshabad Airport, Hyderabad, for 20 hours for  refuelling and rest for crew during a flight from Prague to Perth with 130 tonnes of energy equipment for a Western Australian mining company.

Up to 50,000 people are expected at the Perth airport next Sunday to watch the arrival of this gigantic aircraft in  Australia, said Mr Rishabh Birla, Managing Director, Air Shagoon (Network) Pvt. Ltd.

“We got all the clearances from DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) which are completely different because of the large wing span and the area required for parking after its arrival from Turkmenbashi in Central Asia.

The Shamshabad airport was chosen for the

halt based on several factors such as the length of the runway, ground manoeuvring area, technical facilities, air traffic density and proximity to the trans-continental air route,” Mr Birla said.

The plane will taken in 120 tonnes of fuel before it takes off again in the wee hours of Saturday for Jakarta en route to Perth. Soon after its touchdown, the Ambassador of Ukraine and a host of dignitaries, and representatives of GMR and Air Shagoon would welcome the 20-member crew and six cargo attendants.

The An-225 was originally designed to transport Energia’s rocket boosters and the Buran Space shuttle of the Russian space programme in the ‘80s.

Codenamed “Cossack” by Nato, it was mothballed for eight years on completion of Soviet military missions, and later refurbished for commercial operations. It has since notched 240 world heavy-lift records. The aircraft has such a spacious cargo hold that a Boeing 737 aircraft could be accommodated.

The aircraft’s first flight in commercial service departed from Stuttgart, Germany, on January 3, 2002, and flew to Thumrait, Oman, with 2,16,000 meals for US forces in the region.

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