If you look at the evolution of aviation and aircraft design, you’ll see that planes have become larger and more highly-engineered throughout the ages. The mantle of the world’s biggest aircraft has passed from one plane to another during the years, however, as companies have continued to invest in developing secure and robust vessels for commercial travel.
Large planes have also been designed for use in the military, so there are impressive and huge aircrafts that have been manufactured to fulfil several different purposes.
But what exactly is the world’s biggest plane, and which models have competed for this title in recent times?
Casting our Eyes Over the Antonov AN-225 Mriya — The Largest Plane Ever Built
We start with the Antonov AN-225, which is widely acknowledged to be the largest airplane in the world.
A record-breaking transporter that dates back to Soviet Russia (it completed its first flight on December 21, 1988), this plane is certainly the world’s heaviest aircraft and it boasts a maximum take-off weight that’s greater than 640 tons.
This aircraft has been codenamed ‘Cossak’ by NATO, and it’s a super-heavy strategic airlift cargo plane that is currently powered by a total of six turbofan engines.
The machine also boasts the largest wingspan of any aircraft currently in active service, and it has continued to inspire aviation enthusiasts and designers throughout the world.
Interestingly, the Antonov also fills an especially niche gap in the charter marketplace, by allowing for single loads that would otherwise have been split and transported across several different planes.
Do any Other Planes Compete with the Antonov AN-225?
Despite being lauded as the heaviest and most robust aircraft in the world, the Antonov AN-225 is by no means the only plane that challenges for this honour.
Take the Stratolaunch, for example, which is a six-engine, 500,000 pound aircraft that has been designed to fly at around 35,000 feet. This plane also boasts a 385-foot wingspan, which is slightly longer than the AN-225 and unrivalled in the current marketplace.
This aircraft is synonymous with specialist cargo and military use. However, and in this respect it’s similar to the AN-225, from the perspective of civilian aircraft and air travel, the largest plane is the Airbus A380-800, which actually weighs slightly more than the Stratolaunch and can carry 489 passengers across four different classes.
However, this aircraft has a smaller wingspan (238 feet) than the Stratolaunch, so it’s a little narrower and clearly designed for civilian travel.
The Last Word
Whilst the AN-225 is undoubtedly the largest plane in the world, there are a number of similarly-proportioned aircrafts currently active in the marketplace.
This mantle is also likely to change hands at various points in the future, with few global markets being as changeable or as evolutionary as the aviation sector.