When the massive plane landed at Sao Paulo-Guarulhos airport in Brazil, there were hundreds of spectators lining up to watch. They wanted to catch a rare glimpse of the world's largest airplane: the Antonov AN-225 Mriya and its unusual load.
The plane was there for a special mission: to transport the second heaviest single item of cargo in its 28-year history. The cargo was an ABB power transformer that needed to be transported 2,500 kilometers across South America from the east coast of Brazil to Santiago, Chile.
The transformer weighed 155 tons - the equivalent of 135 medium-size cars - and is the heaviest transformer ever transported by air. It has the capacity to facilitate the flow of electricity to 65,000 households.
A heavyweight transformer requires heavyweight transport. The Antonov AN-225 Mriya is the longest, heaviest airplane ever built and is powered by six engines and equipped with 32 landing wheels. It has a wingspan of 88.4m (almost the length of a football field) compared with a 35.8m wingspan of an Airbus 320. This makes the plane one of its kind in the world, designed to carry huge items of equipment that other aircraft cannot contemplate.
Fast-track delivery from ABB
ABB designed and manufactured the transformer for Colbún, one of Chile's leading electric utilities. It would normally take from 6 to 12months to design and manufactured this type of power transformer, but ABB was determined to support Colbún with their urgent need and deliver it in just four months. It was decided to fly the transformer down as transportation by sea would have taken about six weeks longer.
ABB designed and manufactured the transformer at its Guarulhos factory in Brazil, which is located close to the international airport. The factory is one of more than 70 transformer factories that ABB operates worldwide.
The production was completed ahead of schedule and the transformer's design adapted to enable it to fit inside the plane's hold and remain safe and secure throughout the flight. When loaded the height clearance from the airplane roof was less than 50 millimeters!
As soon as it arrived, the transformer was transported by road from Santiago Airport to the substation where it was energized in quick time and is since bringing reliable power to the people.