The Mriya and Ukrainian Aviation – by Sean Combs
The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has had many damaging effects on sectors of the Ukrainian technology sector. From the destruction of factories to the hacking of websites, all faucets of Ukrainian innovation have suffered lasting damage at the hands of invading forces.
However, one sector of Ukrainian innovation that has suffered the most throughout this invasion has been the aviation sector, which has overall been decimated by air strikes and the closing of Ukrainian air space. One of the biggest losses that the Ukrainian aviation sector has suffered is the destruction of the AN-225 Mriya, which before the war was the world’s largest and most powerful aircraft. This aircraft was an invaluable and unique asset to the Ukrainian aviation industry and economy, as its unmatched payload capacity meant that it was the perfect aircraft for use in private and military operations. Without such an aircraft, the Ukrainian aviation sector faces a tough future ahead as its airspace continues to be closed and militarized.
However, there is some hope that the Ukrainian aviation sector will one day return to its former state. Ukrainian airlines such as Antonov Airlines, SkyUp, and Cavok Air have continued their operations by running charter flights outside of Ukraine, with their profits contributing to the Ukrainian economy as it tries to survive the war. Antonov Airlines in particular has surprisingly become one of the few Ukrainian businesses to turn a profit during the war, as sanctions against Russian airlines have made Antonov Airlines one of the only unsanctioned operators of large Soviet aircraft like the AN-124 Ruslan. Antonov Airlines have also become an effective propaganda tool for the Ukrainian government, which has renamed several Antonov Airlines aircrafts after Ukrainian cities.
Moreover, there is growing hope that the Mriya will take to the skies in the future. Alongside promises made by Antonov Airlines that an uncompleted version of the Mriya will begin to be assembled, Microsoft has recently announced the release of a virtual Mriya available to play on the popular Microsoft Flight Simulator game. All proceeds of the virtual Mriya will be put towards its reconstruction, and Ukrainian aviation fans have expressed hope that the Mriya’s legacy will live on despite the war.
However, no matter how much money is raised for the reconstruction of Mriya and the Ukrainian aviation industry, the war must end before all of that can happen.
CNN, World’s largest plane destroyed in Ukraine, February 28, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/antonov-an-225-largest-plane-destroyed-ukraine-scli-intl/index.html
Sean Coombs is a Journalism undergraduate student, Carleton University