The Antonov An-225
To declare an aircraft as the world’s largest could be a little ambiguous. Is it the largest by way of its length or the wingspan or the overall size?
Interestingly, the criterion that is used to establish which the largest aircraft in the world is its maximum take-off weight, known in aviation jargon as MTOW.
MTOW is the maximum weight at which a particular aircraft meets all mandatory airworthiness specifications. Using these parameters, the honor goes to the Antonov An-225.
Antonov An-225 launched in 1998
The Antonov An-225 was initially launched in 1998, when it was used to transport a Buran space plane from Kiev in a flight that lasted seventy four minutes.
It was later used by Antonov Airlines for commercial operations where it was put to good use for transporting oversized payloads.
The first commercial flight that this aircraft undertook was from Stuttgart in Germany to Thumrait in Oman on January 3 2002.
On board its historic flight were 216,000 meals that were being delivered to US military personnel that were based in the region.
Take a look at the specifications of the Antonov An-225:
The aircraft is 84 meters in length with a wing span of 88.4 meters and a wing area of 905 sq. meters. The height of the aircraft is 18.1 meters.
Its cruising speed is 800 km per hour and its maximum flight speed is 850 km per hour.
The aircraft has a fuel capacity of 300,000 kg, which enables it to cover a distance of 15,400 km. With a maximum payload and maximum fuel, it can fly for 4,000 km.
By itself, without any cargo, the Antonov weighs 285,000 kg and its maximum takeoff weight is 640,000, which of course is what earned it the prestigious “World’s Heaviest Aircraft” title.