Few passenger planes have drawn collective gasps over the years like Concorde – admired as an engineering marvel of its day and the A380 – the world’s largest passenger plane that first rumbled into service in 2007 with Singapore Airlines.
But if you thought the A380 was the biggest bird in the skies, you haven’t heard of Russia’s Antonov 225 ‘Mriya’: the world’s biggest and heaviest jet ever built, that makes the A380 look like a 737 in comparison. The Ukranian name, ‘Mriya’ roughly translates as “dream” in English.
Six engines and 32 wheels propel this super heavyweight cargolifter into the skies.
The plane was designed and built for the Soviet Space program in 1988, originally to transport space shuttle “Buran” to a launch site, but the space project was dropped after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The An-225 – the largest of the Antonov giants – is still in commercial operation as a long-haul freighter, and carries some heavy payloads.
It is rumoured that a second An-225 is in the making, but hasn’t yet been finished.
VIDEO: See the An-225 in action at Manchester airport
And the world’s strangest looking plane award goes to… The Beluga
Airbus’s Beluga A300-600ST (Super Transporter) – aptly named after the Beluga whale – is another behemoth that makes the A380 look like its little sister.
As one of the world’s largest cargo carriers, the Beluga was developed to carry complete sections of Airbus aircraft from production sites around Europe to final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg.
It features one of the widest fuselage cross-sections of any aircraft and can therefore cary over-sized or awkward cargo.
The Airbus Transport International subsidiary of Airbus currently operates five Belugas in the fleet.