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Antonov AN-225 vs. Airbus Beluga





First Flight
84 m275 ft
56 m184 ft
88 m290 ft
44 m147 ft
Wing Area
905 m²9,741 ft²
260 m²2,798 ft²
Fuselage Width
8 m26 ft
7 m25 ft
18 m59 ft
17 m56 ft
Cargo Capacity
253 t560,000 lbs
47 t103,000 lbs
Max Takeoff Weight
640 t1,411,000 lbs
155 t341,700 lbs
Number of Engines
Engine Manufacturer & Model
Progress D-18TGeneral Electric CF6
Max Thrust Per Engine
230 kN51,600 lbf
257 kN58,000 lbf
Max Total Thrust
1,377 kN309,600 lbf
514 kN116,000 lbf
Fuel Capacity
242,000 l63,937 gal
62,000 l16,380 gal
4,000 km2,160 nm
1,650 km891 nm
Cruise Speed
800 km/h497 mph
864 km/h537 mph

What Are the Differences Between the Antonov AN-225 and Airbus Beluga

Antonov AN-225 vs Airbus Beluga Size Comparison

  • With a length of 84 meters, the Antonov AN-225 is 27.80 meters longer than the Airbus Beluga.
  • The Antonov AN-225 and Airbus Beluga have heights of 18.10 meters and 17.30 meters respectively - making the Antonov AN-225 0.80 meters taller.

Antonov AN-225 vs Airbus Beluga Cargo Capacity

  • The Antonov AN-225 can carry about 253 tons of cargo, while the Airbus Beluga can hold about 47 tons . Head to head, the Antonov AN-225 has approximately 206 tons more of cargo capacity.

About the Antonov AN-225

The Antonov AN-225 Mriya, a strategic airlift cargo aircraft, is a monumental achievement in aviation engineering and design. Developed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Soviet Union, it was renowned as the largest and heaviest aircraft ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640,000 kg. The AN-225 was primarily designed for transporting the Energia rocket's boosters and the Buran-class orbiters for the Soviet space program.

Production History: The concept of the AN-225 originated in 1984 when the Soviet government sought a large airlifter for their space program. This led to the adaptation of the existing Antonov An-124 Ruslan. The design involved extending the fuselage of the An-124 and incorporating an additional pair of Progress D-18T turbofan engines, increasing the total to six. The aircraft also featured a unique twin-tail design to handle the wake turbulence from bulky external loads. The rapid pace of development saw the AN-225's first flight on December 21, 1988. It made a notable appearance at the 1989 Paris Air Show, presenting an impressive image with a Buran orbiter mounted atop its fuselage. In 2022, the only AN-225 ever built was destroyed when Russia invaded Ukraine's Hostomel Airport. Antonov is planning to resume building the second AN-225 that has been in storage since 1994.

Design Features: The AN-225 is distinguished by its colossal dimensions. It spans 88.4 meters in wingspan, measures 84 meters in length, and stands 18.2 meters high. The aircraft's design includes a high-wing configuration with six turbofan engines mounted under the wings. The twin-tail design is a distinctive feature that contributes to its unique silhouette. The cargo hold, the largest of any aircraft, extends over 43 meters and is designed for transporting oversized and ultra-heavy freight. The aircraft's reinforced landing gear system, comprising 32 wheels, facilitates operation on diverse runway surfaces.

Operational History: The AN-225's operational history is marked by its role in transporting massive and heavy payloads. It has been pivotal in delivering large machinery, military equipment, and humanitarian aid worldwide. The aircraft holds numerous world records for cargo transportation, including carrying the heaviest single-item payload and the longest item ever transported by air. Notably, it carried four main battle tanks at a weight of 253.82 tons in total, showcasing its exceptional cargo-carrying capabilities.

Similar Freighter Models: The AN-225's scale and capacity place it in a class of its own, with no direct counterparts in the world of aviation. While it shares some design elements with its predecessor, the Antonov An-124 Ruslan, the AN-225 surpasses it in terms of size, payload capacity, and overall performance. Other large military transport aircraft, like the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, are significant in their own right but do not match the payload capacity of the AN-225.

About the Airbus Beluga

The Airbus Beluga, officially designated as the A300-600ST Super Transporter, is a highly specialized wide-body aircraft developed by Airbus. It is uniquely designed for transporting oversized cargo, particularly aircraft parts, earning its name due to its resemblance to the Beluga whale.

Production History: The Beluga's development was initiated as a replacement for the Super Guppies, which were used for transporting large Airbus components. Construction of the first Beluga began in September 1992, and it made its maiden flight in September 1994. The aircraft was a result of Airbus's decision to develop an air-based solution for transporting major components, as surface transportation methods were deemed time-consuming and unreliable. Five Beluga aircraft were eventually built, with modifications performed in Toulouse using components from the Airbus assembly line.

Design Features: Based on the Airbus A300, the Beluga features substantial design modifications to accommodate large cargo. The upper part of its fuselage forms a distinctive horseshoe-shaped structure, allowing for the transport of outsized items. The Beluga's freight compartment measures 7.4 meters in diameter and 37.7 meters in length, with a maximum payload capacity of 47 tonnes. It is powered by General Electric CF6-80C2 turbofan engines, providing enhanced capabilities compared to its predecessors.

Operational History: The Beluga fleet primarily carries Airbus components ready for final assembly across Europe, operating 60 times per week. Operated by Airbus Transport International, a subsidiary of Airbus Group, the fleet also offers charter flight services for third-party clients. The Beluga has been utilized for various special loads, including space station components and large artwork.

Similar Freighter Models: The Airbus Beluga occupies a unique niche in the freighter market. While there are other large cargo aircraft like the Antonov An-124 or Boeing's Dreamlifter, the Beluga is specifically tailored for Airbus' internal logistical needs, focusing on the transport of aircraft parts. In January of 2020, Airbus introduced the BelugaXL - an oversized A330 meant to replace the original Beluga fleet.

Values shown may not be 100% accurate, as some metrics are averages or only represent certain production years and configurations. Engine specs are based on the best options available.

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