What does a big wingspan mean?
In previous Simple Flying articles, we have answered such questions as to which aircraft is the longest, which has the most extended range, and even which commercial jet aircraft has the biggest windows.
But today, we will cover which aircraft has the biggest wingspan. The wingspan will be a measurement from tip-to-tip of the plane, moving through the fuselage and including any extensions that the wing may have (hint: Boeing 777X).
The biggest wingspan of a narrowbody aircraft
Starting our list at the bottom, which narrowbody has the biggest wingspan?
It is not the Airbus A320 (and all its family of variants, the A321, neo, LR and XLR). It only has a wingspan of 35.80 m (117 ft 5 in) tip to tip. The Airbus A220 aircraft has a smaller wingspan, still at only 35.10 m (115 ft 1 in).
The answer lies with a Boeing plane, but not the aircraft that you think. The Boeing 737 MAX has a wingspan of 35.92 m (117 ft 10 in) and is beaten by the original Boeing 707-320B with a wingspan of 44.42 m (145 ft 9 in) to carry its four engines.
If you wanted to get technical and say that the Boeing 707 existed before there was a distinction between narrowbody and widebody aircraft, then the Boeing 757-300 takes second place with a wingspan of 38.0 m (124 ft 10 in).
Which commercial passenger aircraft has the biggest wingspan?
Now for the main event, of the widebodies, which has the biggest wingspan?
Coming close to the top is the Airbus A340. The massive long-ranged Airbus aircraft has a wingspan of 63.45 m (209 ft 5 in). This is followed by the Boeing 747-8, which has a fantastic wingspan of 68.4 m (224 ft 7 in).
Now we get into the top two. The next biggest is Boeing’s new aircraft, the Boeing 777X. It has a wingspan of 71.75 m (235 ft 5 in). However, this wingspan may cause a problem with airport gates, and thus Boeing designed the ends to fold up and reduce the wingspan to only 64.85 m (212 ft 9 in).
Thus, the A380 is the passenger aircraft with the biggest wingspan of 79.75 m (261 ft 8 in). Like we mentioned above, this wingspan caused problems at airports and required airports to redesign gates. But did you know that the wing of the A380 was that wide because the A380 we know today was the smaller version in Airbus’ plans?
Which aircraft has the biggest wingspan?
If we didn’t include the category of ‘passenger’ aircraft, then there is a bigger wingspan aircraft in the world—the rocket launching Stratolaunch.
At a stunning 117 m (385 ft), the wingspan is big enough to house six Boeing 747-400 engines in tandem, two Boeing 747 modded fuselages, and still have room for the massive cargo in the middle. Impressive!
What do you think of this ranking? Let us know in the comments.