The world's largest aircraft has landed in Shannon Airport this afternoon with a consignment of Personal Protective Equipment for medical staff.

The Antonov AN-225 cargo transporter began its journey in China and has made stops in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Germany.

It was due to arrive in Ireland yesterday with a huge consignment of PPE, but its journey was delayed due to technical problems.

The plane has 32 wheels for take off and landing

It is carrying one million medical gowns, as well as other medical equipment, for the Health Service Executive.

The aircraft is six storeys high, has 32 wheels, is 230 tonnes heavier than a jumbo jet and was originally used to transport a former Soviet Union space shuttle.

Shannon is the only airport in Ireland that can facilitate such a huge aircraft.

Niall Maloney, Shannon Airport Operations Director, said Shannon Airport has remained open for cargo flights because it wants to play its part in the Covid-19 pandemic response.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Maloney said the aircraft had been mothballed for around eight years in the 1990s, but came back in the late '90s as a commercial plane.

Today will mark its fourth visit to Shannon.

Meanwhile, the first consignment of a £60 million order for PPE from China has arrived in Northern Ireland.

The Stormont Executive said 1.5 million Type 11R respirator masks arrived in Belfast in recent days.

In total, just over 63 million masks and more than 54 million pairs of protective gloves have been purchased.

Read more: Latest cornavirus stories