THOUSANDS turned out to witness the historic arrival of the world’s biggest plane – the Antonov An-225 Mriya – at Perth Airport yesterday.
The largest aircraft in the world attracted about 20,000 people, completing a 14,000km flight from Czech Republic to deliver a 117-tonne generator for an aluminium refinery in Collie.
The Antonov An-225 Mriya, which is 84m long, 18m high and with a wingspan of 84.4m, was making its first ever flight to Australia and touched down about 11.45am.
The best location for viewing the arrival was the temporary viewing area on Airport Drive, with thousands of spectators lining up at the fence to see the ‘giant of the skies’ taxi past after landing on Runway 21.
Perth Airport executive general manager external affairs Fiona Lander said the level of public interest in the arrival of the Antonov was unprecedented.
“We worked closely with Antonov to ensure everyone who came to see the aircraft got a good view on Taxiway Charlie (yesterday) morning,” Ms Lander said.
“The sheer size of the An-225 was breathtaking, with the click of camera shutters audible over the roar of the six engines as it taxied past.”
Karpeles Flight Services, a specialist of DB Logistics subsidiary DB Schenker for the chartering of aircrafts, was responsible for the organisation of the trip around the world.
The transportation of the generator started on May 10 in the Czech city of Pilsen, before it was loaded on the giant 28-year-old plane in Prague.
Schenker Australia chief executive Ron Koehler said the plane had three stop-overs en route to Perth, at Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, Hyderabad and Kuala Lumpur.
“The excitement was great, there were high expectations and to organise the airfreight in an Antonov 225 is an absolute highlight,” Mr Koehler said.
DB Schenker also arranged for the land transport to the Australian client, an aluminium refinery in Collie.
With its 21 crew comprised of seven cockpit crew, one flight manager, six engineers and additional support crew, the Antonov is expected to depart Perth, bound for Italy, early tomorrow morning.