Many think that creating a huge aircraft is the best of engineering. But in reality, what matters most is to build a highly efficient and innovative design! When the Wright brothers created the first ever aircraft nearly a century ago, most humans never imagined that flying was possible. When the first of the airplanes were created, most of the focus went to their performance and safety. After establishing air travel as a secure and reliable way of transport, a lot of different aircrafts emerged whose capabilities went beyond many people’s imaginations.
Passenger aircrafts saw innovation, both in terms of speed and size, thus appeared the supersonic jet Concorde and NASA’s Super Guppy which are capable of carrying a payload of thousands of tons.
Such a business of an airline requires airliners to be more efficient and economic than to have super capabilities. The aircraft most commonly used by passenger airlines include the Airbus A320 family and Boeing 747. The A320 family lies on the smaller side of passenger airliners that airlines most commonly use for their economic performance; their length is around 37.75 meters. However, the Boeing 747 lies on the larger side with a length of about 70 meters.
Whether or not we can make a plane 5 times as large as a standard airliner, depends on the type of aircraft you consider as a standard. Considering the A320 craft to be standard, we have already created aircraft three times their size. If by size, we take into account the payload capacity, we have managed to achieve much more than the planes in the past. The Boeing 737 has a maximum take off weight of nearly 190,000 pounds, and the Antonov-225 can easily take off with a payload of 7 times as much as the 737.
For a really long time, the Antonov-225 was the largest aircraft in the world when the Airlander 10 appeared to surpass the behemoth in size. Soon after, we saw the Stratolaunch, the aircraft with a wingspan of 117 meters, that is three times as much as the complete length of the A320. The purpose of the Stratolaunch is to carry a spaceship to the stratosphere and launch it there with a payload capability of over 550,000 pounds.
Below is the comparison of the Airlander 10, initially named HAV304, also called the flying bum, with An-225 and Airbus A380 (which is easily double the size of the standard A320):
The development of all of these massive airplanes proves that it is possible to create an airplane as large as possible. There could be passenger airliner big enough to fit 1,000 people, spread on the sides of six aisles. However, the major problem is not their development, but their economic viability and security. These crafts would require more security, more wheels, more brakes, and a much stronger landing gear. If an aerospace company were to develop such an airliner, no airlines would be willing to buy one for its massive costs.
Oh! Don’t forget the problem to accommodate such massive aircrafts on the normal-sized airport runways all over the world.
5 times bigger than a standard aircraft?! *500 times* would be much more interesting. Even the Hindenburg Zeppelin which crashed (after millions of miles of very safe and comfortable air miles) in 1937 was nearly the size of the Titanic! I’m talking about a dirigible 1/4 mile or more long with cabins, restaurants, swimming pool, etc, but most spectacularly a huge glass floor so passengers could watch the earth move by, thousands of feet below. Perfectly do-able and with that much real-estate, it could even be solar powered! No need for a runway, 70% fuels savings over conventional air travel (even if powered by fossil-fuelled engines). Almost ‘unsinkable’ – truly a liner of the skies!
But who says we can’t. Anything is possible like you illustrated with those examples. But I don’t think we should be going bigger.
We need a flying taxi.