Last week, Emirates cut down its order of Airbus A380s, the largest passenger plane in the world. This, among other factors, means that the project is cancelled: no A380s will be made after 2021. In memory of this gentle giant, let’s look at 5 biggest planes in the world.
- Length: 76.3 meters
- Wingspan: 68.4 meters
- Operating empty weight: 220,128 kilograms
Boeing 747 series have spent about 30 years being the biggest kid on the commercial air travel block. B747-8, which made its first flight in 2010, is the longest passenger airliner in the world. And it looks lot more normal than A380 to boot.
B747-8 – or, B747-8I (Intercontinental), which is the passenger version – can seat 467 passengers in a three class configuration, 51 more than B747-400. Boeing claims that it’s also the fastest passenger jet in the world, clocking in Mach 0.855 (that’s aviation nerd for “1055.754km/h”). However, according to Boeing data, it’s the B747-8F, the freight version, that is more popular, making up 2/3rds of the plane’s orders.
- Length: 72.72 meters
- Wingspan: 79.75 meters
- Operating empty weight: Around 277,000 kilograms
Airbus started the A3XX programme in 1994 while the work on A380 commenced in 2000. Back then, it was developed with hub-and-spoke transportation in mind, where huge planes would carry passengers to between transport hubs that would then reroute those passengers to their destinations in smaller jets. However, point-to-point prevailed as the model of transportation, leaving the massive A380 – first flown in 2005 – kinda pointless.
The A380 is a double decker aircraft that can normally seat 525. Though if you want to fly only comrades and ditch the bourgeoisie leeches bloated with the blood of common man, the plane has been certified to carry 853. Unfortunately, the A380 was a loss to Airbus with every airplane produced (and at $450 million, it’s already more expensive than the B747). Still, at more than 234 built, it’s more common than the B747-8.
Antonov An-225 Mriya
- Length: 84 meters
- Wingspan: 88.4 meters
- Empty weight: 285,000 kilograms
Mriya means “dream” – fittingly so, as An-225 is less of a plane and more of an antediluvian nightmare that shouldn’t fly, yet does, out of some cyclopean vision and into the waking world. There’s only one of them in existence, though China might be angling to produce more. Mriya is the product of man’s hubris and an enlargement of An-124, the largest military aircraft in use.
Super freighter An-225 has six engines and flies almost as fast as the B747-8, despite being deployed at the end of the 1980s to carry around Buran, the Soviet space shuttle that couldn’t. It is the heaviest plane in operation and it has the longest wingspan of any aircraft in service. Mriya holds the absolute world records for an airlifted single-item payload of 189,980 kilograms and an airlifted total payload of 253,820 kg. It could almost carry a B747-8 on top. No wonder 50,000 people once gathered in Perth to see this baby fly.
Hughes H-4 Hercules (“Spruce Goose”)
- Length: 66.65 meters
- Wingspan: 97.54 meters
- Empty weight: 113,399 kilograms
Only absolute lunacy would make a man build a plane with a bigger wingspan than the Mriya, use mostly birch and have plans to use it in World War II. Luckily for us, Howard Hughes was that stark raving lunatic (as seen in Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “The Aviator”).
Spruce Goose (as it was called by critics and is called by cool people) was to be a strategic airlift flying boat, taking loads of bullets, beans and bandages to the fighting men in Europe. However, it wasn’t finished in time for the war. It also only flew once. The Spruce Goose still maintains the record for longest wingspan (at 97.54 meters) – however, it’s a lot shorter than the other planes seen on this list.
Stratolaunch carrier aircraft
- Length: 73 meters
- Wingspan: 117 meters
- Empty weight: 226,796 kilograms
Stratolaunch looks like a kid taped two B-1 bombers by the wings. However, it’s in truth a plane that will one day possibly carry rockets for air to orbit launch. This would allow space-oriented ventures to skip the whole “booster rocket” business and provide them with a reusable launch vehicle. Possibly.
Stratolaunch would be 73 meters long and have the enormous wingspan of 117 meters (nearly twice the wingspan of B747-8). The right hull would contain the cockpit for the crew. The left one would be left unpressurized. However, with the Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL air-launched rocket being the only rocket in production it could carry, the Stratolaunch’s future is uncertain. The planned first flight would take place in 2019, so we’ll find out soon enough.
But you don’t need to fly a plane that goes against laws of God and man to run into flight disruptions. Flight delays, cancellations and overbooking can strike even those routes that operate very reasonably-sized aircraft. If that happens to you, claim flight compensation via Skycop! With up to €600 at stake, you really have something to win!