Airplanes have made traveling the world more affordable as it is the fastest way to move large numbers of passengers. The larger the aircraft, the more passengers and cargo it can carry. Today we’re going to take a look at gigantic planes that are so big it begs the question, “How does it even fly?”
We will not include US military cargo aircraft, or the world’s largest transport aircraft, the Antonov An-225 Mriya, but only heavy-lift, maximum take-off weight (MTOW) passenger aircraft.
10. Airbus A330-300
The Airbus A330 is a twin-engine medium to long range jet airliner manufactured by Airbus. The A330 shares many frame components with the A340, except for the number of engines.
Two General Electric CF6-80E1, Pratt & Whitney PW4000 or Rolls-Royce Trent 700 jet engines were installed on the A330, and four CFM or Rolls-Royce Trent series engines were installed on the A340. The A330-300 was developed at the same time as the four-engined A340. It is equipped with two turbofan engines, has a wingspan of almost 30 meters and a cruising speed of 856 km/h.
Airbus recently developed a cargo cargo aircraft based on the A330 airliner called the Beluga XL (Airbus A330-743L). On July 19, 2018, Airbus began flight testing the Beluga XL to receive certification. On January 9, 2020, Airbus Transport entered service with the aircraft as a replacement for the Airbus Beluga.
9. Airbus A340-300
The A340-300, like all members of the Airbus family, has many key innovations, including an improved flight control system to improve safety, reduce weight and cost, advanced carbon fiber materials and aerodynamics to save fuel.
Standard variants of this largest passenger aircraft can carry up to 375 passengers. The A340 has a range of 6,700 to 9,000 nautical miles, which varies by model. Its features are four high-speed turbofan engines and a tricycle landing gear. The Airbus A340-300 is 209 meters long and has a wingspan of 198 feet. As of June 2019, Lufthansa, the largest A340 user, has acquired 62 A340-300s.
8. Airbus A340-500
Airbus launched the A340-500 in 2006, however initial deliveries began in 2002. This is an aircraft with a capacity of 372 passengers. The aircraft is about 223 feet long and has a range of up to 10,358 miles. The A340-500 was the longest-range commercial aircraft until it lost its crown to the Boeing 777–200LR. The A340’s fuselage cross-section offers airborne airlines the versatility to meet market demands, from ultra-high comfort premium seating to economy layouts.
It is the ideal passenger aircraft for ultra-long haul flights. The four-engine, wide-body, twin-engine liner offers some of the longest non-stop routes in the world, up to 9,000 nautical miles.
7. Airbus A350-900
The A350-900 was unveiled on January 15, 2015 and first operated by Qatar Airways. The Airbus A350-900 is a 325-seat wide-body passenger aircraft that is part of the next-generation Airbus series. A350-900 serves routes up to 19 hours. It is believed to be capable of flying farther than any other commercial aircraft. The maximum capacity is 440 passengers and the wingspan is 64.75 meters.
The list of companies using the liner: Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Philippine Airlines. The aircraft offers seven cabin temperature ranges for more precise onboard climate control, along with improved fuel efficiency. Thanks to plastic components, this model is 25 percent lighter than some of the older versions.
6 Boeing 777–200LR
Model 777–200LR (Long-Range) is one of the commercial long-range liners that entered service in 2006. The Boeing 777–200LR boasts the world record for the longest non-stop commercial airline flight. It can seat 400 passengers in a two-class system, and its single-class version can seat a maximum of 440 people. The wingspan is 64 meters. Jet turbo engines JGE90-110B1 or GE90-115B are installed. Delta Air Lines and Emirates are the main operators of the LR version.
5. Airbus A340-600
The Airbus A340-600 is the super-elastic version of the A340 family of aircraft and is the largest of the Airbus jetliners. It has a capacity of 380 (or 475 in high-density seats) passengers with a range of 13,900 km. This is one of the largest passenger aircraft in the world.
The first flight of the A340 was made in a 2000-hour test test of six airliners on October 21, 1991. The A340 was type certified by EASA Aircraft in June 2002 and first flew on 23 April 2001. It launched in August 2002 when it made its first commercial flight from London Heathrow Airport to JFK New York with Virgin Atlantic (the company ordered 20 aircraft as an initial customer). This aircraft has a wingspan of 63 meters. The A340-600 is powered by four 250 kN Rolls-Royce turbo engines.
4 Boeing 777–300
The Boeing 777–300 seats 550 people in a single-class cabin and 451 in a two-class cabin. The maximum route distance is 6013 miles and the maximum speed is 590 miles per hour. Boeing designed this large passenger aircraft to increase capacity by 20%, resulting in 60 to 75 extra seats (depending on class).
3 Boeing 747–400
The Boeing 747–400 series is Boeing’s best-selling model. The largest commercial aircraft with a massive body was built on the basis of one of the earlier 747s. Airlines can accommodate 416 passengers in a three-class configuration, 524 in a two-class version and 660 in an economy configuration.
Boeing 747–400 has a length of 71 meters and a wingspan of 64 meters. Despite the huge body, the 747 can reach a top speed of up to 614 mph and has a range of up to 7,260 miles. Pratt & Whitney PW4056, General-Electric CF6-80C2B1F and Rolls-Royce RB211-524G/H are new fuel efficient jet engines. There is a high-density seat model 747–400D designed for domestic short Japanese flights with high traffic volumes.
2 Boeing 747–8
The 747–8 is a wide-body airliner manufactured by Boeing Commercial in the United States. With its two-deck configuration and wide fuselage body, the model has eclipsed all commercial passenger aircraft. The design has been improved, and over the years its capacity has steadily increased. The Airbus A380 is larger than the 747, but technology-wise, Boeing is ahead of its European counterpart. When using a single class system, the Boeing 747–8 can accommodate 700 passengers and 600 passengers for a dual class system.
The flight range of the aircraft is 12,800 kilometers. It entered service in 2011 and since then over 150 aircraft have been produced. 747 has two variants; 747–8I (intercontinental) and 747–8F (cargo). The Freighter version with a shorter upper deck is capable of carrying 137 tons of cargo. The F is also 23t lighter than the Intercontinental, with an operating weight (OEM) of 197.13t.
1. Airbus A380-800
Airbus A380 is the largest passenger aircraft in the world. When the Airbus A380 was launched in 2007, it caused a stir among the public. Because of its sheer size, the international media called it a super-giant aircraft. The standard Airbus A380-800 Emirates can accommodate up to 853 passengers in a single-level economy class cabin and 644 passengers in a two-level cabin. A wide-body aircraft can cover a distance of 12,874 kilometers. It is also the heaviest passenger aircraft in the world (MTOW: 575 t) and, surprisingly, the fastest (maximum design speed: 1185 km/h). The Qantas A380’s first-class cabin and stylish interior consistently rank among the most luxurious in the world.
In terms of commercial success, a decade later, the A380 market is very different. What promised great commercial success is now trying to survive. The A380 is one of the most expensive and complex aircraft with a price tag of $436 million. On February 14, 2019, Airbus announced it would end production by 2021 with Emirates Airlines cutting back on its latest orders in favor of the A350 and A330neo.
At the 2017 Paris Air Show, Airbus unveiled the A380Plus. PLUS is an improved version of the A380 with increased capacity and reduced passenger costs. Without changing its performance characteristics, Airbus tweaked other aspects of the A380-800 standard. Although the A380 is certified to fly with approximately 850 passengers, it typically accommodates 497 passengers on board. This capacity has been increased to 575 seats in the new model thanks to the redesigned interior of the A380plus.