Surely the Boeing 747 'Jumbo' is the largest plane you have ever boarded, or perhaps it is the Airbus 380. In both cases you will have been quite lucky and you will have been impressed by its dimensions ... Well, being large, these planes have some ahead in the ranking of the largest built. If you found it curious to know which were the fastest, let's see which are the ten largest aircraft in history . There is a curious anecdote ahead: for more than 70 years no one built one bigger than a certain apparatus from 1947 ...
This particular twin-fuselage plane was designed to lift rockets and launch them from above, lowering the cost of putting satellites into orbit. Literally a flying launch pad , not surprisingly 90 percent of a rocket's energy is expended to reach about 10 km altitude. It was the dream of Paul Allen, millionaire co-founder of Microsoft, who passed away at the end of 2018 and without having seen it fly. The first (and for now only) test flight was made on April 13, 2019 in Mojave, and therefore it is "certified" as an aircraft ... the largest ever built.
It is 117 meters wide, more than a football field , 73 meters long and weighs 227 tons. Its load capacity is remarkable: 250 tons, which can carry up to over 10,000 meters of altitude. It needs a runway of almost 4 km for take-off, and carries six P&W jets with more than 250 kN of unit thrust capable of taking it up to 853 km / h.
Hughes H-4 Hercules
2. Hughes H-4 Hercules
If the Stratolaunch was Paul Allen's dream, here we have the fruit of another great dreamer (and no less rich). Howard Hughes responded with this gigantic seaplane to the request of the United States Congress. They needed transports to Europe for the final phase of World War II, safer and faster than ships (easy prey for German submarines). Hughes took the project as a personal challenge and carried it through to its final phase , even after the war was over and Congress had closed funding.
The Hughes Hercules measured 97 meters in wingspan and 66 meters in length and was almost entirely made of wood, less difficult in wartime than using so much metal. It weighed 180 tons and was so large in relation to the planes of its time that the general opinion was that it would never fly . Hughes equipped it with eight P&W engines of 4,000 hp each and when he finished it, in 1947, he personally flew it in Long Beach, California. He only lifted it 21 meters for a mile, to show that it did fly, but after that the plane never flew again. The initial project had been canceled and Hughes was satisfied with that segment… It would be 71 years before the Stratolaunch flight surpassed him as the largest aircraft in flight.
3. Antonov An-225 Mriya
The Stratolaunch and especially the Hughes Hercules are somewhat "anecdotal" planes, but here we have a real beast of the air . Turning the Antonov An-225 into reality was also dreamlike anyway, hence its name, Mriya (“dream” in Ukrainian). With its 88-meter wingspan, it is somewhat smaller than the Hughes, but its 84-meter length puts it in the lead in that regard. Also its load capacity, up to 355 tons, for a curb weight of 285 tons. Its six Progress reactors generate 230 kN of thrust each and allow it a cruise of 800 km / h and a range of 4,000 kilometers. When taking off, it generates so much turbulence that the next plane must wait 15 minutes for safety.
This aircraft was conceived in the 1980s, and the first and only one was completed in 1988. A second, more recent unit that has not been completed could be joined by more in China soon, thinking of using it as a launch pad for orbiting satellites. It has several records (up to 240 no less), such as the one for the largest air cargo transported at one time: almost 190 tons of an electric generator from Germany to Armenia (3,000 km). It is used primarily to carry rocket parts (inside or on its back) and other large and heavy components.
4. Airbus A380
Here we start with the large airplanes but that we can see with some ease, even traveling or having traveled in them. The Airbus A380 was the great European project for a high-capacity, double-deck aircraft. It is capable of carrying up to 850 passengers although the usual configurations have remained at 450 to 550 with greater amplitude. Its initial success was hampered by the change in commercial policy of the airlines, looking for lighter aircraft, in addition to the fact that in some airports the transit of the A380 was complicated. That slowdown has ended up closing the project definitively and once the last orders have been delivered, Airbus will no longer manufacture A380s .
It is the largest passenger plane in the world with its 80-meter wingspan and between 68 and 72 meters in length (depending on version). Its curb weight is between 267 and 282 tons and it mounts four Rolls Royce reactors with more than 300 kN of thrust. The use of non-metallic materials in its structure stands out (40 percent carbon fiber). Its first flight was in 2005 and the first commercial in 2007. It flies at about 900 km / h with a range of 14,800 kilometers.
5. Boeing 747
The popular "Jumbo", with its particular hump in the front area where it has two floors, has been the largest commercial aircraft in the world for many years. With 68 meters of wingspan and 76 meters in length , its arrival in 1970 was a revolution that is now easy to understand. It was the first widebody (for several rows of seats) and the first to use turbofan jets, now common, with lower consumption, emissions and noise than the previous generation. It was developed in the 1960s and was first flown by Boeing in February 1969, for commissioning in January 1970.
It can carry more than 400 passengers in three classes, or more than 500 in two, with a range of 15,000 kilometers and a cruise of 913 km / h. In these years there have been different versions and configurations anyway, according to the company, but the 747 is always identified by the shape of its fuselage. There are different versions of cargo, an application that was thought from its inception among other reasons in case supersonic passenger aircraft, then promising (Concorde), were successful.
6. Antonov An-124
It is the little brother of the great An-225 but the largest military cargo aircraft and until a version of the heavier 747 arrived, also the one with the greatest mass in flight. It measures 73 meters in wingspan and 69 meters in length , weighs 175 tons empty and can carry up to 150 tons of cargo. It is powered by four Progress jets with 230 kN thrust and flies up to 865 km / h. It is now frequently used in a civil way to transport yachts, locomotives, parts of airplanes or rockets… A large air truck.
7. Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
If the An-124 is the truck of the air, here we have the American and military version. Although the Antonov was born as a military project, its success has led it to civilian commercial use. This is not the case with the Galaxy, an aircraft for the exclusive use of the US military . The first unit was manufactured in 1968 and entered service from 1970, and has undergone different structural evolutions until today. It measures 68 meters of wingspan by 75 meters in length and weighs 172 tons empty. It can carry up to 122 tons of cargo at just over 900 km / h with a range of 4,400 kilometers, although it can be refueled in flight.
8. Tupolev Tu-160
The “White Swan” is a little known plane but with many milestones, and of which 35 no less have been built. It is a Russian military aircraft, a strategic supersonic bomber still in service, whose first flight took place in 1981 and has life until at least 2040. It is the largest combat aircraft in the world, the largest supersonic aircraft manufactured and the largest with variable geometry wings. Russian President Putin has once hinted that they might make a passenger version, but this has never passed a rumor. Among its records is having flown with 30 tons of cargo at an average of 1,720 km / h. With outstretched wings (subsonic flight) it measures 56 meters wingspan(35 m folded) by 54 meters long. It weighs 111 tons when empty and carries four reactors with 140 kN of thrust that increases to 245 kN using afterburners. Its maximum speed is 2,220 km / h with a range of 12,300 km and a flight ceiling of 21,000 meters. It can carry up to 40 tons of bombs or missiles (including nuclear).
Airbus 350-600 Iberia
9. Airbus A340-600
With a 63-meter wingspan and no less than 75 meters in length , the Airbus 340-600 is another great commercial aircraft. It mounts four jets of about 250 kN of thrust to fly at 900 km / h with a range greater than 14,000 kilometers. The first version of the A340 entered service in 1993 but due to low demand they stopped manufacturing it in 2011. The 600 version, the longest (and only surpassed by the last Boeing 747-8) can carry 419 passengers (two classes). The most modern models, with two more efficient reactors, have gained a place in the market.
10. Boeing 777
This twin-engine of American origin is the largest of its kind and can carry 400 passengers up to 15,000 kilometers. It entered service in its first version in 1995 and the largest 300 in 1998. It continues its development and one version with another has outsold the 747, a milestone at Boeing. The 300 version measures 65 meters wide and 74 meters long , with an empty weight of 160 tons. Its two 440 kN thrust reactors take it to 900 km / h up to 13,000 km of range.
Size comparison of the largest aircraft