World's largest aircraft visits Manchester (photos)

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The one-and-only six-engine Antonov 225 is currently sat at Manchester Airport, U.K., ready to take its outsize cargo of oil rig equipment to the Far East. Having arrived empty from its home base of Kiev-Gostomel on Sunday afternoon, it was due to depart this morning via the Ukraine, however, it appears that it was denied permission to overfly Russian airspace, and so it has been delayed by 24 hours.

The An-225 is a development of the An-124 and was designed in the 1980s to carry the Russian Space Shuttle 'Buran'. When that program fizzled out, the aircraft was put in storage for several years, until it became an in-demand asset to the world of air cargo. It can carry loads that nothing else can match, being longer, wider and heavier than even the Airbus A380.

Below is a picture from 1989 when it appeared at Paris Air Show complete with the 'Buran' space shuttle (looking remarkably like the US version!)

All photos: Nigel Howarth

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