According to the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a large aircraft is one that has a maximum weight of 12,500 pounds at takeoff. However, the definition according to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is slightly different. According to the EASA, a large aircraft is a multi-engine helicopter or aircraft with a maximum weight of more than 12,600 pounds at takeoff. A fixed-wing aircraft is one that is capable of flight using wings that generate a lifting force caused by the shape of the wings and the speed of the aircraft. A fixed-wing aircraft is contrasted with a rotary-wing aircraft.
The Largest Fixed-Wing Civilian Aircraft in the World
Antonov An-225 Mriya
The largest fixed-wing aircraft in the world is the Antonov An-225 Mriya, which was designed in the Ukrainian SSR during the 1980s. The plane is the heaviest ever to be built, with a massive maximum weight of 1,410,958 pounds at takeoff. When empty, the aircraft has a weight of 628,317 pounds. In addition, it also has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in the world, reaching a whopping 290 feet. The plane measures 275 feet and 7 inches in length and has a height of 59 feet and 5 inches. The aircraft first took flight on December 21, 1988. Production of the plane ceased in 1994 due to a lack of funding and interest from stakeholders.
With its double deck and wide body, the Airbus A380 is the largest passenger aircraft ever made. In fact, airports require specially designed runways to accommodate the A380. The A380's maiden flight occurred on April 27, 2005. The plane has an overall length of 238 feet and 7 inches, a wingspan of 261 feet and 8 inches, and a height of 79 feet. The maximum takeoff weight is 1,268,000 pounds, while its empty weight is 610,000 pounds. An improved design of the plane, named the A380plus, is currently underway is expected to be available in 2020.
The Boeing 747-8 surpassed the Airbus A340-600 as the world's longest plane in operation, and is the largest of all Boeing 747 variants. Announced in 2005, the plane's maiden flight occurred on February 8, 2010. The plane has a length of 250 feet and 2 inches, a height of 63 feet and 6 inches, and a wingspan of 224 feet and 7 inches. The maximum takeoff mass is 987,000 pounds, while its empty weight is 485,300 pounds (434,600 pounds for the 747-8F).
Tupolev Maksim Gorki
The Tupolev Maksim Gorki was a Soviet eight-engine aircraft designed in the 1930s. When compared with modern aircraft, its wingspan was similar to that of a Boeing 747. During its time, it was the largest airplane in the world. The plane required a crew of eight and had a capacity of 72 people. The Tupolev Maksim Gorki had a length of 107 feet and 11¼ inches, a wingspan of 206 feet and 8¼ inches, and a relatively short height of 34 feet and 9¼ inches. The plane's maximum takeoff weight was 116,600, while it had an empty weight of 62,700 pounds.