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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Antonov Readies World's Largest Cargo Airplane

KIEV — Ukraine's Antonov plane designing company said on Wednesday it had almost completed the renovation and modernization of the world's biggest cargo plane, the Antonov-225.

"All work is almost completed — engines were set up, as well as all other equipment. Now we have to paint the plane and it has to fly in the last days of this month or in the first days of April," spokesman Andriy Savenko said.

The superheavy An-225 Mriya, or Dream, will be fitted with new safety systems, navigation and communication equipment. Designers have said they are also reinforcing the aircraft's fuselage so that its bay can accommodate very heavy cargo.

The superheavy Antonov An-225 plane was launched in 1988 as part of the Soviet Union's Buran space shuttle program. Only two such planes were built, and only one actually flew. The turbo An-225's wingspan is 88.4 meters, and the plane can carry 250 tons of cargo for up to 4,500 kilometers at a cruising speed of 800 to 850 km kilometers per hour.

The An-225 will be equipped with a new cockpit and passenger cabin, new ventilation and lighting, Savenko said. The engines were designed and produced at the country's leading Motor Sich engine maker. Savenko said the modernized An-225-100 would make an appearance at the world's largest aviation show at Le Bourget in France in June.

In January, the only completed prototype of the Russian-Ukrainian military transport aircraft An-70 crashed in western Siberia — throwing into doubt the future of a project in which Russia has already invested $300 million.

Like the An-225, the An-70 was developed at the Antonov factory in Kiev.