10 Largest Aircraft Ever Flown or Conceived

10. Convair XC-99

Convair_XC-99_in_flight_c1948

General characteristics

The Convair XC-99, AF Ser. No. 43-52436, is a prototype heavy cargo aircraft built by Convair for the United States Air Force. It was the largest piston-engined land-based transport aircraft ever built, and was developed from the Convair B-36 bomber, sharing the wings and some other structures with it. The first flight was on 24 November 1947 in San Diego, California, and after testing it was delivered to the Air Force on 26 May 1949.[1] The Convair Model 37 was a planned civil passenger variant based on the XC-99 but was not built.

9. McDonnell Douglas MD-12

Md-12-2

General characteristics

The McDonnell Douglas MD-12 was an aircraft design study undertaken by the McDonnell Douglas company in the 1990s for a “superjumbo” aircraft, first conceived as a larger trijet, then stretched to a 4-engine airliner. It was to be similar in size to the Boeing 747, but with more passenger capacity. However, the MD-12 received no orders and was canceled. McDonnell Douglas then studied larger MD-11 derivatives named MD-XX without proceeding.

8. Antonov An-124

Antonov_AN124-100_landing_at_RNZAF_Base_Ohakea

General characteristics

The Antonov An-124 Ruslan (Ukrainian: Антонов Ан-124 “Руслан”) (NATO reporting name: Condor) is a strategic airlift jet aircraft. It was designed by the Antonov design bureau in theUkrainian SSR, then part of the Soviet Union (USSR). Until the Boeing 747-8F, the An-124 was, for thirty years, the world’s highest aircraft gross weight production cargo airplane and second heaviest operating cargo aircraft, behind the one-off Antonov An-225 (a greatly enlarged design based on the An-124).[5] The An-124 remains the largest military transport aircraft in the world.[6]

During development it was known as Izdeliye 400 (Product #400) in house, and An-40 in the West. First flown in 1982, civil certification was issued on 30 December 1992.[7] In July 2013, 26 An-124s were in commercial service with 10 on order.[8] In August 2014, it was reported that Antonov An-124 production was stopped due to the ongoing political tensions between Russia and Ukraine.[9]

7. Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

DEF

General characteristics

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft originally designed and built by Lockheed, and now maintained and upgraded by its successor, Lockheed Martin. It provides the United States Air Force (USAF) with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsize and oversize loads, including all air-certifiable cargo. The Galaxy has many similarities to its smaller Lockheed C-141 Starlifter predecessor, and the later Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. The C-5 is among the largest military aircraft in the world.

The C-5 Galaxy’s development was complicated, including significant cost overruns, and Lockheed suffered significant financial difficulties. Shortly after entering service, cracks in the wings of many aircraft were discovered and the C-5 fleet was restricted in capability until corrective work was completed. The C-5M Super Galaxy is an upgraded version with new engines and modernized avionics designed to extend its service life beyond 2040.

The USAF has operated the C-5 since 1969. In that time, the airlifter supported US military operations in all major conflicts including Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, as well as allied support, such as Israel during the Yom Kippur War and operations in the Gulf War. The Galaxy has also been used to distribute humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and supported the US Space Shuttle program.

6. Boeing 747-8

747-8 First Flight Everett WA

General characteristics

The Boeing 747-8 is a wide-body jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Officially announced in 2005, the 747-8 is the third generation of the 747, with lengthenedfuselage, redesigned wings, and improved efficiency. The 747-8 is the largest 747 version, the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States, and the longest passenger aircraft in the world.[3]

The 747-8 is offered in two main variants: the 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8I) for passengers and the 747-8 Freighter (747-8F) for cargo.[4] The first 747-8F performed the model’s maiden flight on February 8, 2010, with the 747-8 Intercontinental following on March 20, 2011. Delivery of the first freighter aircraft occurred in October 2011 and the passenger model began deliveries in 2012. As of January 2016, confirmed orders for the 747-8 total 121, comprising 70 of the freighter version, and 51 of the passenger version.[1]

5. Boeing 2707 SST

L-2000_Pan_Am

General characteristics

  • Length: 306 ft (93.27 m)
  • Wingspan: 180 feet 4 inches (54.97 m) spread
    105 feet 9 inches (32.23 m) swept ()
  • Powerplant: 4 × General Electric GE4/J5P turbojets, 63,200 lbf (281 kN) (with augmentation) each

The Boeing 2707 was the first American supersonic transport (SST) project. After winning a competition for a government-funded contract to build an American SST, Boeing began development at its facilities in Seattle, Washington. The design emerged as a large aircraft with seating for 250 to 300 passengers and cruise speeds of approximately Mach 3. This made it much larger and faster than preceding SST designs like Concorde.

The SST was the topic of considerable concern within and outside the aviation industry. From the start the airline industry had noted that the economics of the design were questionable, concerns that were only partially addressed during development. Outside the field, the entire SST concept was the subject of considerable negative press, centered on the issue of sonic booms and effects on the ozone layer.

A key design feature of the 2707 was its use of a swing wing configuration. During development the required weight and size of this mechanism continued to grow, forcing the team to start over using a conventional delta wing. Rising costs and the lack of a clear market led to its cancellation in 1971 before two prototypes had been completed.

4. Airbus A380-800

Airbus_A380-800_of_Lufthansa_in_Frankfurt_Germany_-_Aircraft_ground_handling_at_FRA_EDDF

General characteristics

The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by European Union manufacturer Airbus.[4][5][6] It is the world’s largest passenger airliner, and the airports at which it operates have upgraded facilities to accommodate it. It was initially named Airbus A3XX and designed to challenge Boeing‘s monopoly in the large-aircraft market. The A380 made its first flight on 27 April 2005 and entered commercial service in 25 October 2007 with Singapore Airlines.

The A380’s upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage, with a width equivalent to a wide-body aircraft. This gives the A380-800’s cabin 550 square metres (5,920 sq ft) of usable floor space,[7] 40% more than the next largest airliner, the Boeing 747-8,[8] and provides seating for 525 people in a typical three-class configuration or up to 853 people in an all-economy class configuration. The A380-800 has a design range of 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km), serving the second longest non-stop scheduled flight in the world, and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h, 560 mph or 490 kn at cruising altitude).

3. Hughes H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose”

H-4_Hercules_2

General characteristics

The Hughes H-4 Hercules (also known as the “Spruce Goose“; registration NX37602) is a prototype strategic airlift flying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Intended as a transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II, it was not completed in time to be used in the war. The aircraft made only one brief flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminium and concerns about weight, it was nicknamed by critics the “Spruce Goose”, although it was made almost entirely of birch.[2][3] The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history.[4] It remains in good condition and is on display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, United States.[5]

2. Antonov An-225 Mriya

Antonov_An-225_Beltyukov-1

General characteristics

  • Length: 84 m (275 ft 7 in)
  • Wingspan: 88.4 m (290 ft 0 in)
  • Powerplant: 6 × ZMKB Progress D-18 turbofans, 229.5 kN (51,600 lbf) thrust each

The Antonov An-225 Mriya (Ukrainian: Антонов Ан-225 Мрія (dream or inspiration), NATO reporting name: “Cossack“) is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft that was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It is powered by six turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built, with a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes (710 short tons). It also has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service. The single example built has the Ukrainian civil registration UR-82060. A second airframe was partially built; its completion was halted because of lack of funding and interest.

The Antonov An-225, initially developed for the task of transporting the Buran spaceplane, was an enlargement of the successful Antonov An-124. The first and only An-225 was completed in 1988. After successfully fulfilling its Soviet military missions, it was mothballed for eight years. It was then refurbished and re-introduced, and is in commercial operation withAntonov Airlines carrying oversized payloads.[1] The airlifter holds the absolute world records for an airlifted single item payload of 189,980 kilograms (418,834 pounds),[2][3] and an airlifted total payload of 253,820 kg (559,577 lb).[4][5] It has also transported a payload of 247,000 kilograms (545,000 pounds) on a commercial flight.[6]

1. Scaled Composites Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch-apogee

General characteristics

  • Length: 238 ft (73 m)
  • Wingspan: 385 ft (117 m)
  • Powerplant: 6 × Pratt & Whitney PW4056 turbofan, 56,750 lbf (252.4 kN) thrust each

The Scaled Composites Model 351 (nicknamed the “Roc”), is being built for Stratolaunch Systems to provide a platform from which air-launch space missions can be staged.[1] With a wingspan of 117 m (385 ft), the design has the longest wingspan of any airplane to date (July 2015).[2]

In August 2015, Scaled Composites president Kevin Mickey stated the company has so far assembled “roughly 200,000 pounds of composite structure” for the vehicle and if put on an American football field, “its wingtips would extend beyond the goalposts by 15 feet on each side.”[3]

Each of the twin fuselages of the aircraft is 238 feet (72 metres) long and will be supported by 12 main landing gear wheels and two nose gear wheels, for a total of 28 wheels. It will require 12,000 feet of runway to lift-off.[4]

The air-launch altitude is planned for about 35,000 feet, according to Chuck Beams of Vulcan Aerospace, a company owned by Paul Allen which oversees the project. As of June 2016, the project is 76% complete.[5] Payload is noted as in excess of 500,000 pounds.[6]

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