The marvel of flight never ceases to amaze, and the spectacle is that much more unbelievable when the aircraft are longer than Olympic swimming pools, heavier than the world’s biggest tanks, and taller than five-story buildings.
From Antonov’s hulking An-225 Mriya to the inconceivably wide Stratolaunch, we’ve compiled a list (in no particular order) of the biggest planes in the world flying today.
1. Boeing 777-9
Boeing’s 787-9 is the world’s largest and longest twin-engine commercial aircraft. Once it goes into service, the 251-foot-long aircraft will ferry up to 425 passengers on long-haul flights—spanning up to 7,285 nautical miles—around the world. Each of the Boeing 777-9’s wings (complete with retractable wingtips) are the “largest single composite structure in the world,” according to a report from CNN. The jet’s twin General Electric GE9X engines, which generate roughly 105,000 pounds of thrust and are as wide as the fuselage of the company’s 737 jet, are the most powerful engines to be attached to a commercial aircraft yet.
After several delays due to poor weather, the aircraft’s inaugural test flight took place on January 27, 2020. But Boeing’s gargantuan jet, which officially launched in 2013, is now facing a number of hurdles.
Recent documents viewed by the Seattle Times revealed that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has halted the certification process of Boeing’s behemoth jet due to a number of issues, including an “uncommanded pitch event” that took place during one of the plane’s test flights. FAA certification of the behemoth airliner could be at least two years away, meaning it may not go into service until 2024, according to the Times report.
2. Boeing 747 – 8
In the 2000s, Boeing found it needed a cargo plane with an enormous amount of storage to transport components for the 787 – 8, which has parts made all over the world. The solution was to take its biggest plane, the 747, and build a custom cargo hold around it.
At 65,000 cubic feet, the Dreamlifter has the largest cargo hold in the world, capable of carrying three times the volume of a 747-400F freighter. The four Dreamlifters Boeing made also use the longest cargo loader in the world, and can haul payloads up to 125 tons.
3. Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 is the European 747, and the A380-800 is the largest passenger aircraft ever made, with room for 850 passengers. It flies some of the longest routes around the planet, but like the 747, it may be starting to get replaced with smaller planes with similar range.
The Airbus A380 is truly the world’s flying bus, flying more people at a time than any other plane in history.
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