World's Largest Airplanes

World’s Largest Airplanes

Aviation has evolved remarkably, from planes barely staying aloft for moments to safely ferrying hundreds across continents. One significant aspect of this evolution is the increasing size of planes, exemplified by the Airbus A380, the largest passenger aircraft in service. There has been a trend to make airplanes more versatile and fuel-efficient, meaning the tendency to construct larger aircraft is much less. However, it is worth acknowledging the diverse array of massive planes that have soared through history alongside it.

World's Largest Airplanes

List of Large Planes Still in Service

Some of the world’s largest aircraft are still in service. We have arranged these planes by their maximum takeoff weight (MTOW), which is the most common factor determining how much a plane can carry, including fuel, passengers, cargo, etc., and is widely used as a standardized measure.

AircraftWhen Did it First FlyHow Many Were BuiltPrimary RoleLengthWingspanMTOWKnown For
Airbus A38027 Apr, 2005254Commercial Airliner238.5 ft261.8 ft560 tonnes
Highest passenger capacity airliner
Boeing 747-88 Feb, 2010155Commercial Airliner 250.3 ft224.4 ft447 tonnesLast member of the Boeing 747 series
Antonov An-12426 Dec, 198255Transport226.7 ft240.5 ft402 tonnesMost capable transport until the An-225
Lockheed C-5 Galaxy30 Jun, 1968131Military transport247 ft222.7 ft381 tonnesLargest payload capacity until the An-124
Boeing Dreamlifter9 Sep, 20064Outsize cargo235.23 ft211.28 ft364 tonnesBoeing 747-400 derivative, largest volume until the BelugaXL
Antonov An-2227 Feb, 196568Transport190 ft212 ft250 tonnesHeaviest turboprop aircraft
Airbus BelugaXL19 Jul, 20185Outsize cargo207 ft197.8 ft227 tonnesAirbus A330 derivative, with the largest volume
Boeing B-5215 Apr, 1952744Bomber159.1 ft185.03 ft220 tonnesHeaviest until the XB-70
Airbus Beluga13 Sep, 19945Outsize cargo184.38 ft147 ft155 tonnesAirbus A300 derivative, largest volume until the Dreamlifter

List of Large Fixed-wing Aircrafts No Longer in Service

A lot of these aircraft are no longer in service. Reasons could include a preference for sleeker and more versatile models, being destroyed during a crash, or an experimental prototype that wasn’t feasible for mass production. They are similarly arranged by their maximum takeoff weight (MTOW), with a cut-off of 100 tonnes.

AircraftWhen Did it First FlyHow Many Were BuiltPrimary RoleLengthWingspanMTOWWhy Is It Not in Use
Antonov An-225 Mriya21 Dec, 19881Transport275.6 ft290 ft640 tonnesDestroyed in 2022 during Russia’s assault on Ukraine
Stratolaunch13 Apr, 20191Air Launch239.5 ft383.5 ft589 tonnes
Ownership changes leading to the craft being used for flight tests currently
Caspian Sea Monster16 Oct, 19661Ground Effect Vehicle301.8 ft123.4 ft544 tonnesCrashed into the Caspian Sea in 1980
XB-7021 Sep, 19642Bomber185.03 ft104 ft246 tonnesRetired in favor of the An-22
Convair B-368 Aug, 1946384Bomber162 ft230 ft186 tonnesRetired in favor of the An-22
Hughes H-4 Hercules 2 Nov, 19471Flying Boat218.8 ft320.8 ft180 tonnesExperimental wooden craft that made a single flight
Convair XC-9923 Nov, 19471Transport182.4 ft230 ft145 tonnesRetired in favor of the An-22
Blohm & Voss BV 238Apr 19441Flying Boat142 ft197.5 ft100 tonnesDestroyed in 1945, near the end of World War II

Over time, there have been marked improvements in materials used to construct airplanes, as well as in aerodynamics and propulsion. These improvements have expanded the capabilities of large aircraft, influencing global travel and cargo transport and leaving a mark on how we travel throughout the skies.