The 3 Largest Public Passenger Airplanes in Use Today

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The first airplane ever flown was done so by Orville & Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. The airplane was constructed of spruce and ash covered with muslin. It was powered by a 4 cylinder engine that was created by the Wright Brothers. The dimensions of the airplane were:

  • Wingspan – 40ft. 4in.
  • Length – 21 ft.
  • Height – 9ft 3in.
  • Weight – 605 lbs.
  • Engine – 12 hp gasoline powered

Since that flight in 1903 the use of airplanes as a form of transportation has evolved and grown into a massive industry. Today, airplanes are a far cry from the 40ft. 4in. wingspan of the Wright Brothers creation. Passengers can now fly comfortably and luxuriously on today’s aircrafts. Below is a list of the 3 largest passenger airplanes in the world, ranked by number of passengers the aircraft can hold. By taking a look at these airplanes the amount of growth in technology and in the airline industry from the first flight in 1903 can really be put into perspective.

1) Airbus A380-800 – The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger airplane in the world. It is a massive double-deck, wide body (two passenger aisles), 2 engine airliner that is manufactured by the European company Airbus. This massive aircraft made is maiden flight on April 27, 2005 from Toulouse, France and made its first commercial flight on October 25, 2007 when it flew from Singapore to Sydney. The upper deck of this monster extends along the entire length of the fuselage, or main body of the aircraft, which allows for a cabin of 5,146 square feet of floor space. It provides seating for 525 people in the typical three-class seating configuration and can provide seating for up to 853 people in an all economy seating class configuration. The Airbus 380 has a design range of 9,400 miles, which would be enough to fly from New York to Hong Kong. Airlines which have commenced commercial flights with the Airbus A380 include Air France, Emirates, Lufthansa, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines. Emirates is the largest operator of the airplane with 15 in operation. Specifications for the Airbus A380-800 are:

  • Wingspan – 261.6 ft.
  • Length – 238.6 ft.
  • Height – 80.2 ft
  • Weight (takeoff weight) – 1,250,000 lbs.
  • Maximum Fuel Capacity – 85,472 gal.

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2) Boeing 747-400 – The Boeing 747-400 is the second largest passenger airplane in the world. It is widebody, four-engine commercial jet airliner. It is manufactured by Boeing commercial Airplanes and is the most successfully sold airplane of the 747 series. This aircraft seats a maximum of 624 people and can fly without interruption for 7,670 nautical miles. The airplanes first passenger flight was with Northwest Airlines on February 9th, 1989 and it flew from Minneapolis to Phoenix. Specifications for the Boeing 747-400 are:

  • Wingspan – 211ft. 5 in.
  • Length – 231ft. 10in.
  • Height – 63ft. 8in.
  • Weight (takeoff weight) – 875,000 lbs.
  • Maximum Fuel Capacity – 57,285 gal.

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3) Boeing 777-300 – The Boeing 777-300 is the next largest airplane in terms of passenger capacity. It can hold up to 550 passengers in a single class high density configuration. The 777-300 was designed as a replacement for the 747-100 and 747-200 models. This stretched variant was designed to burn one-third less fuel and have a 40% less maintenance costs than the 747 models it replaced. Because of this aircraft’s length it is equipped with a tailskid and ground maneuvering cameras to aid pilots during taxi, which is the movement of the aircraft on the ground. A tailskid protects the back of the airplane in the instance of tailstrike. A tailstrike happens when the back of the airplane strikes the runway. This can happen during takeoff or landing if the pilot pulls up too rapidly or flares too aggressively. Specifications of the Boeing 777-300 are:

  • Wingspan – 199ft. 11in.
  • Length – 242ft. 4in.
  • Tail Height – 60ft. 8in.
  • Weight (takeoff weight) – 660,000 lbs
  • Maximum Fuel Capacity – 45,220 gal.

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My name is Erica Gustafson and I am a freelance writer / consultant for Expedia. I love to travel and write about my ventures, every place I visit is truly a unique experience.


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