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World’s largest plane in Malaysia for second time

SEPANG: The world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov An-225 Mriya, has landed in Malaysia for its second time ever on Saturday, and the country remains the only Asean country where it has touched down.

The behemoth of a cargo plane touched down at the KL International Airport (KLIA) at 8.30am from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, India, and is here for refuelling purposes.

KLIA is the plane’s last refuelling stop after stopping at Prague, Turkmenistan and Hyderabad after taking off from Kiev in the Ukraine.

The plane has flown across three continents, namely Europe, Asia and Oceania, and is on schedule on its “special mission” to haul a generator weighing 130 tonnes to Perth, Australia on Sunday.

Antonov AN- 225 chief pilot Captain Antonov Dmytrov. – Bernama
Chief pilot Antonov Dmytrov (pic) told Bernama that the plane, measuring 84m long and 18m high, is the world’s longest and heaviest plane, which he described as equivalent to flying a five-storey building.

It has 32 tyres in its landing gear and a wingspan of 88m.

Antonov, who has 14 years’ experience flying the huge plane, said it is powered by six engines and is able carry a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes.

“The airplane is way bigger than an Airbus A380 … no other plane like this in the world.

“The airplane was developed in the 1980s for the (former) Soviet Union to carry a space shuttle on its back,” he said.

Malaysia Airports Bhd airsite operations senior executive M. Kathi said this was the second time the plane landed at KLIA, after making its first touchdown here in 2007.

“In 2007, the plane landed here at KLIA and brought five helicopters for the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition.

“The plane was supposed to land at the Langkawi International Airport, but unfortunately the airport apron there could not cater for the plane’s wingspan,” he said.

Meanwhile, Norizam Ismail, passenger handling executive for Hasrat Asia Malaysia Sdn Bhd – the company responsible for bringing the airplane here for refuelling – said that the airplane will be taking off for Perth at 5.30am Sunday.

“All 21 crew, including the pilot will rest at the nearby hotel here,” he said.

This historic event drew about 150 enthusiasts comprising staff from KLIA and other airlines to view the aircraft.

Malaysia Airlines technician Mohamad Nor Fathin Zulkifli, 24, said it was a rare experience to witness the moment the plane hit the tarmac.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to see this plane as it is only operates once or twice a year,” he said. – Bernama

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