Regarding the maximum size of aircraft?

19 July 2009

Question

Regarding the maximum size of aircraft, as recently discussed on Ask the Naked Scientists...

Answer

Chris - We said there shouldn't really be a theoretical maximum for an airplane. It will be down to the materials that are used to design it and whether you can make a frame that's big enough and cost-effective enough to put in the air, and he says, "Yes, planes could be made bigger but there is a worldwide gate size limit, in other words the air terminal, of 80 meters wing span. The A380, that's the new massive airplane, it's got something like four or five hundred people on it - a 79.8-meter wing span for that one and this restriction is to stop collisions apparently. But he says, "To make a larger plane would require a longer wing span which should be greater than the legal limits." Apparently, Howard Hughes did build the largest plane ever. It was in 1947, it was called the H4 and it was nicknamed the 'Spruce Goose' and had a 97-meter wing span.Kat - I wouldn't like to try and park that one!

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