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Comparison of largest aircraft

The size of aircraft can be compared in three key ways: length, wingspan and weight — specifically the maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of that aircraft. This is a visual comparison of the largest aircraft ever to fly across all of these measurements of size.

Largest aircraft by length

Airships remain the largest aircraft ever made by length. Their development peaked in the 1930s before a series of disasters led to their demise. All the airships listed below were destroyed in accidents except for the LZ 129 Graf Zeppelin II — sister-ship of the LZ 130 Hindenburg, infamous for its disastrous crash in 1937.

Longest aircraft — lighter-than-air

Double-decker bus for comparison: 8.38 metres / 26.25 feet

Hindenburg-class airship (Germany)

First flight: 4 Mar 1936. Number produced: 2

Hindenburg-class airship

Length: 245 metres / 803.81 feet
(same length as around 29 buses)

Akron-class airship (USA)

First flight: 8 Aug 1931. Number produced: 2

Akron-class airship

Length: 239 metres / 784.12 feet
(same length as around 29 buses)

R101 airship (UK)

First flight: 14 Oct 1929. Number produced: 1

R101 airship

Length: 236 metres / 774.28 feet
(same length as around 28 buses)

Longest aircraft — heavier-than-air

The longest heavier-than-air aircraft are all currently operating transports and airliners with the exception of the Soviet-built Korabl Maket (also known as the Caspain Sea Monster). This huge aircraft was an experimental transport ground effect vehicle (or ekranoplan in Russian) which was destroyed in an accident in 1980.

Double-decker bus for comparison: 8.38 metres / 26.25 feet

Caspian Sea Monster (USSR)

First flight: 16 Oct 1966. Number produced: 1

Caspian Sea Monster

Length: 92 metres / 301.84 feet
(same length as around 11 buses)

Antonov An-225 Mriya (USSR)

First flight: 21 Dec 1988. Number produced: 1

Antonov An-225 Mriya

Length: 84 metres / 275.59 feet
(same length as around 10 buses)

Boeing 777X-9 (USA)

First flight: 25 Jan 2020. Number produced: 2

Boeing 777X-9

Length: 76.7 metres / 249.34 feet
(same length as around 9 buses)

Boeing 747-8 (USA)

First flight: 8 Feb 2010. Number produced: 137

Boeing 747-8

Length: 76.4 metres / 249.34 feet
(same length as around 9 buses)

Airbus A340-600 (Multinational)

First flight: 23 Apr 2001. Number produced: 97

Airbus A340-600

Length: 75.4 metres / 246.06 feet
(same length as around 9 buses)

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy (USA)

First flight: 30 Jun 1968. Number produced: 131

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

Length: 75.31 metres / 246.06 feet
(same length as around 9 buses)

Largest aircraft by wingspan

While transports and airliners had traditionally been the largest aircraft by wingspan, in 2019 Scaled Composites launched the Stratolaunch. Designed to carry air-launch-to-orbit rockets for deploying satellites into space, the Stratolaunch is the largest aircraft ever produced by wingspan.

Double-decker bus for comparison: 8.38 metres / 26.25 feet

Scaled Composites Stratolaunch (USA)

First flight: 13 Apr 2019. Number produced: 1

Scaled Composites Stratolaunch

Wingspan: 117 metres / 383.86 feet
(same length as around 14 buses)

Hughes H-4 Hercules (USA)

First flight: 2 Nov 1947. Number produced: 1

Hughes H-4 Hercules

Wingspan: 97.8 metres / 318.24 feet
(same length as around 12 buses)

Antonov An-225 Mriya (USSR)

First flight: 21 Dec 1988. Number produced: 1

Antonov An-225 Mriya

Wingspan: 88.4 metres / 288.71 feet
(same length as around 11 buses)

Airbus A380 (Multinational)

First flight: 27 Apr 2005. Number produced: 242

Airbus A380

Wingspan: 79.8 metres / 259.19 feet
(same length as around 10 buses)

Antonov An-124 (USSR)

First flight: 26 Dec 1982. Number produced: 55

Antonov An-124

Wingspan: 73.3 metres / 239.50 feet
(same length as around 9 buses)

Boeing 777X-9 (USA)

First flight: 25 Jan 2020. Number produced: 2

Boeing 777X-9

Wingspan: 71.8 metres / 232.94 feet
(same length as around 9 buses)

Largest aircraft by MTOW

MTOW is the heaviest weight an aircraft is certified by its manufacturer for takeoff. How much payload an aircraft can vary greatly and is influenced by many factors including weather and altitude. The comparisons below are all potential based on the subtraction of each aircraft's empty weight from its MTOW.

Double-decker bus for comparison: 746.8 kilograms / 1,646.85 pounds

Antonov An-225 Mriya (USSR)

First flight: 21 Dec 1988. Number produced: 1

Antonov An-225 Mriya

Empty weight:
285,000 kg / 628,317 lbs

Potential payload weight:
285,000 kg / 628,317 lbs
(equivalent to 382 buses)

Maximum takeoff weight: 640,000 kg / 1,410,957 lbs

Scaled Composites Stratolaunch (USA)

First flight: 13 Apr 2019. Number produced: 1

Scaled Composites Stratolaunch

Empty weight:
226,796 kg / 499,999 lbs

Potential payload weight:
226,796 kg / 499,999 lbs
(equivalent to 304 buses)

Maximum takeoff weight: 589,670 kg / 1,299,998 lbs

Airbus A380 (Multinational)

First flight: 27 Apr 2005. Number produced: 242

Airbus A380

Empty weight:
277,145 kg / 610,999 lbs

Potential payload weight:
277,145 kg / 610,999 lbs
(equivalent to 371 buses)

Maximum takeoff weight: 575,000 kg / 1,267,657 lbs

Caspian Sea Monster (USSR)

First flight: 16 Oct 1966. Number produced: 1

Caspian Sea Monster

Empty weight:
240,000 kg / 529,109 lbs

Potential payload weight:
240,000 kg / 529,109 lbs
(equivalent to 321 buses)

Maximum takeoff weight: 544,000 kg / 1,199,313 lbs

Boeing 747-8 (USA)

First flight: 8 Feb 2010. Number produced: 137

Boeing 747-8

Empty weight:
220,128 kg / 485,299 lbs

Potential payload weight:
220,128 kg / 485,299 lbs
(equivalent to 295 buses)

Maximum takeoff weight: 447,700 kg / 987,008 lbs

Credits and sources

This comparison was inspired by the list of large aircraft on Wikipedia. Data was also sourced from Wikipedia. It was compiled, written and visualised by James Offer. Please send any corrections or comments to me at jamesoffer@gmail.com. All content is available under the Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.