Airplanes and the wonder of flight never cease to astound, and what makes them even more incredible is when the planes are longer than Olympic swimming pools, heavier than the world’s most giant tanks, and taller than 5-story buildings.
Large aircraft can be measured in various ways, including length, weight, wingspan, and volume. Taking all of these criteria into account, here are the world’s largest planes flying today.
Antonov An-225 Mriya
Number one on the list is Antonov An-225 Mriya, the biggest plane in the world.
With a maximum takeoff weight of 710 tons, the An-225 is the largest aircraft ever built. With a total weight of 559,580 pounds and a single-item payload of 418,830 pounds, it set the record for the total airlifted load. It has the 290-foot wingspan of any plane currently in the air, as well as six engines.
The Antonov Design Bureau in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic manufactured only one of these massive cargo planes. Antonov developed it to transport the Buran spaceplane (the Soviet model of the space shuttle) and Energia rocket launchers. However, as the Soviet space program collapsed, the plane soon found a different airlifting business.
In 2020, Antonov An-225 Mriya joined the global war against COVID-19 that affected the whole world. The aircraft soared to the sky to transport supplies to countries worldwide with limited resources because of the pandemic.
Aero Spacelines Super Guppy
NASA is probably the only organization in the world that kept Super Guppy. The rest of them certainly discarded this huge and bloated aircraft. According to the US space agency, the Guppy’s large proportions are ideal for transporting spacecraft and rocket components.
They built the first Super Guppy from the fuselage of a Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter, which flew for the first time in 1965. The Airbus Beluga has primarily replaced the turboprop cargo plane for huge and strangely shaped freight transportation.
Still, the Super Guppy will continue to perplex people in the skies as long as NASA has a use for it.
Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
The C-5 Galaxy is the United States military’s largest aircraft. It has a payload capacity of 127 tonnes and in-flight refueling for a long-range.
In May 2017, the Air Force stated that the monster aircraft would be reactivating. Although numerous large transports have followed it, it is still in active service with the US Air Force.
The C-5 can transport two M1 Abrams tanks, 16 Humvees, three Black Hawk helicopters, and a range of other vehicles. The C-5 can travel up to 7,000 miles without refueling, without cargo, making it the world’s longest-range military airlifter.
The C-5 is used by the Air Force when it has to deliver a large amount of cargo fast.
Boeing 747 Dreamlifter
Boeing needed a cargo plane with a lot of storage in the 2000s to deliver parts for the 787 Dreamliner, which has pieces created worldwide. Their solution was to modify their largest plane. Then, Boeing’s redesigned fuselage transporter is called the Dreamlifter. They based this fuselage on a stretched 747-400, with an unusual tail swing door allowing full access to the fuselage.
The Dreamlifter features the world’s most extensive cargo hold, with a volume three times that of a 747-400F freighter at 65,000 cubic feet. They built this aircraft to transport Boeing 787 parts to final assembly facilities in Washington and South Carolina from suppliers in Italy and Japan (as well as other US locations).
Antonov An-124 Ruslan
The An-124 Ruslan, flown by the Russian Air Force, has a reported cargo capacity of 165 tons, making it even more capable than the C-5 Galaxy. Though its range isn’t as great, the An-124 Ruslan is the world’s biggest military aircraft.
Apart from the sole An-225, the An-124 was the world’s largest and heaviest freight aircraft for nearly 30 years after its introduction in 1984. It was the heaviest commercially produced aircraft until 2011, when the 747-8F surpassed the An-124.
Airbus Beluga XL
The BelugaXL was developed in 2014 and made its initial operational flight in 2020, following more than 200 test flights. It has now joined Airbus’ existing massive fleet in transporting certified Big Things throughout the world. This aircraft is a modification of the Airbus A330, not an aircraft type.
The plane is enormous. This aircraft is 206 feet long and features the world’s largest cargo plane cross-section. And in terms of volume, it is the largest. The Beluga XL has a 2,209 cubic meter fuselage volume. Boeing’s Dreamlifter, by comparison, has a cargo capacity of 1,840 cubic meters.
By passenger capacity, volume, weight, and wingspan, the A380 is the largest passenger jet ever built. The wingspan of the Airbus A380 is 15 meters longer than that of the Boeing 747. Even when empty, it weighs about half as much as the 747. However, the 747-8 and the impending 777-9 will surpass it in terms of length.
It has a maximum passenger capacity of 853 people (exit limit) but a usual capacity of 400 to 550 people. Such a large capacity displays a world-class engineering achievement. However, for airlines, it has not worked out as well as intended.