NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images
Lisa Cheng
February 16, 2017

Only one airplane on Earth can carry four Russian military tanks, an entire train, or 50 cars. It requires six engines and a staggering 290-foot wingspan (that's nearly the length of a football field) to accomplish these feats, but such superlatives have helped the Antonov An-225 claim the distinction of being the world's biggest airplane.

Designed to carry Soviet spacecraft in the 1980s, the An-225 (also known as the “Mriya”) weighs just a hair over 661 tons and is 276 feet long. That's three times heavier than the Statue of Liberty, and six times longer than a yellow school bus.

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The Mriya is the only airplane of its kind—and it's set more than 200 world records. Presently, it's the largest aircraft by weight in history, and the largest aircraft by wingspan, according to Guinness World Records.

The Mriya also set a record on Aug. 11, 2009, for airlifting the heaviest item in history: a 375,200-pound power plant generator.

Unfortunately for aviation fanatics, it's not easy to see the Mriya in action. The plane typically makes only one or two trips each year. In May of 2016, it took a widely reported flight from Prague to Perth, with stops in Turkmenistan, India, and Malaysia.

The Largest Passenger Plane

© Airbus Group

Travelers desperate to experience a giant airplane will have an easier time booking a flight on the 239-foot Airbus A380, designed to transport people rather than oversized payloads.

The A380 is the largest passenger aircraft by weight, tipping the scales at 560 tons (that's 1,235,000 pounds, or 165 elephants). About 3,000 suitcases can fit in the cargo hold.

While each airline can manipulate the seating configuration, the A380 is capable of transporting up to 853 passengers in a cabin that spans the equivalent of three tennis courts.

With a wingspan of 262 feet, the double-decker A380 doesn't just hold a lot of travelers. The A380 can also accommodate cushier arrangements in the upper classes, such as double beds in an enclosed area (Singapore Airline’s Suite Class) and a posh three-room suite serviced by a butler known as Etihad’s The Residence.

© Airbus Group

Other carriers, including Korean Air and Qatar Airways, use the upper deck to host Business and First-class bars, or duty-free shops where travelers can actually browse the goods rather than a catalog. More than a dozen airlines have incorporated these giant vessels into their fleets, improving the chances you could enjoy a long-haul flight on one of the world's largest airplanes.

And here's another biggest airplanes fun fact: There's a brand-new (and distinctly butt-shaped) airship taking to the skies. At 302 feet, the Airlander 10—which debuted in August 2016 and made an impossibly slow crash landing—is the world's largest aircraft. But the blimp-like hybrid isn't an airplane, and it certainly can't compete with either the Mriya or the A380 in terms of weight or payload capabilities. Not that it doesn't have its charms: It moseys along at a leisurely 90 miles per hour.

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