On August 30, 2016, Antonov and the Aerospace Industry Corporation of China (AICC) signed a cooperation agreement on the AN−225 programme.
The first stage of this cooperation consists in the construction of a second modernized AN-25 Mriya by Antonov. This aircraft will then be delivered to AICC.
The second stage contemplates the join production of the AN-225 in China under license.
The first modernized AN-225 is expected to take to the skies by 2019.
The AN-225 Mriya is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft that was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It is powered by six turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes. It also has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service.
The single example built has the Ukrainian civil registration UR-82060. A second airframe was partially built but its completion was halted because of lack of funding and interest.
The AN-225, initially developed for the task of transporting the Buran spaceplane, was an enlargement of the successful AN-124. The first and only AN-225 was completed in 1988. After successfully fulfilling its Soviet military missions, it was mothballed for eight years. It was then refurbished and re-introduced, and is in commercial operation with Antonov Airlines carrying oversized payloads.