Bigger is better!
The Antonov An-225
is the world's biggest plane, period, and
it is also the largest plane that has flown more than one flight.
' one-shot Spruce Goose
still claims the top spot,
thanks to a wingspan
10 meters longer than the An-225's.)
The An-225 was constructed with one primary purpose in mind: its job
was to ferry about the Russian space shuttle Buran
strapped on its back. The design is heavily based on the
world's second-biggest plane, the Antonov An-124 Ruslan, and creating
the An-225 mainly involved stretching the body 12m, enlarging the wings
and adding two more jet engines.
The first (and so far only) An-225 was rolled out in Kiev in
November 1988, and its maiden flight followed on December 21, 1988.
On March 22, 1989, the plane broke 110 aviation world records by
carrying 156 tons of cargo for almost 4 hours, and in May it ferried
the Buran for 2700 km.
Alas, the dissolution of the Soviet Union ended the Buran project.
Now owned by the Ukraine,
the An-225 flew around between air shows for a while, but was
mothballed in spring 1994. Only in February 2001 was it finally
restored and updated, flying again in May under the flag of
Antonov Airlines, a joint company partly owned by British cargo
company Air Foyle. On September 11, 2001 (yes, really),
the An-225 broke another set of records by hoisting 4 main battle tanks
aloft for a total weight of 253,820 kg.
Length: 84,0 m
Height: 18,2 m
Wingspan: 88,4 m
Wing area: 905 sq.m
Cargo payload: ~250 tons (external) or ~220 tons (internal)
Total payload: ~450 tons
Maximum velocity: 850 km/h
Maximum range: 4500 km (full payload) to 15.400 km (no cargo)
- The An-225 is powered by 6 jet engines with a thrust of 23,400 kg each.
- The main landing gear has 7 sets of two wheels.
- Despite its immense size, it can still make a full turn on a taxiway
60 meters wide.
- A 4500-km trip under full load chows down on some 200,000 kg of fuel,
so flights with this lovable lunk aren't exactly cheap (or environmentally
Largest mass-produced transport: Antonov An-124 Ruslan, capacity 150t
Largest Western military transport: Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, capacity 118t
Largest Western civil transport: Airbus A300-600ST Beluga, capacity 47t