How large is a "large aircraft"
According to the FAA regulatory definition, large aircraft means aircraft of more than 12,500 pounds, maximum certificated take off weight, which is the heaviest weight an aircraft can have when it starts the take off roll. A large air carrier aircraft can provide at least 31 passenger seats. (FAA Glossary, 20111)
Giant Planes Comparison
(Picture embeded from Wikipedia on 8 August 2011)
But really, what planes are VLAs (very large aircraft)? The table below shows the growth of large aircrafts, you are probably quite familiar with some of them.
List of Large air carrier Aircraft
|Antonov An-225||21 December 1988||The largest and heaviest aircraft in the world (max. takeoff weight greater than 600 t)|
|Aero Spacelines Super Guppy||31 August 1965||Radical cargo aircraft based on the Boeing 377|
|Airbus Beluga||13 September 1994||Airbus replacement for the Super Guppy. Based on the A300-600|
|Airbus A340-600||23 April 2001||World's second longest passenger aircraft at 75.36m|
|Airbus A380||27 April 2005||Largest mass-produced aircraft in the world and the highest-capacity passenger aircraft|
|Antonov An-70||16 December 1994||First large transport aircraft to use propfan engines|
|Antonov An-124||1982||The second largest mass-produced aircraft in the world once the Airbus A380 was produced|
|Antonov An-22||27 February 1965||World's largest turboprop-powered airplane|
|Boeing 314 Clipper||7 June 1938||One of the largest flying boats|
|Boeing 377Stratocruiser||8 July 1947||Large propeller-powered airliner based on the B-50 bomber aircraft|
|Boeing 747||9 February 1969||The largest jetliner for 35 years|
|Boeing 747-8||8 February 2010 (F variant)||The world's longest aircraft at 76.3m.|
|Boeing 747 LCF(Dreamlifter)||9 September 2006||Massive volume for 787 parts transport (65,000 cubic feet)|
|Boeing 767||26 September 1981|
|Airbus A330-300||2 November 1992|
|Boeing 777||12 June 1994||Largest twin-engined aircraft in the world. Also the third largest Commercial Passenger aircraft made|
|Boeing Shuttle Carrier Aircraft||1976||Derivative of the 747, used to transport the Space Shuttle|
|Bristol Brabazon||4 September 1949||Large airliner, size comparable to the Boeing 767|
|Ilyushin IL-86||22 December 1976||First wide-bodied aircraft produced in the Soviet Union|
|Ilyushin Il-96||28 September 1988|
|Lockheed L-1011 Tristar||16 November 1970|
|McDonnell DouglasDC-10||29 August 1970|
|McDonnell DouglasMD-11||09 March 1988|
|Saunders-Roe Princess||22 August 1952||The largest flying-boats ever built|
|Tupolev Tu-114||15 November 1957||Passenger derivative of the Tu-95 bomber|
|JRM Mars||1941||Largest flying-boat ever produced. Used 1945-1956 as a "Flying Dreadnought" by the US navy. From 1956-Present they have been used as water bombers all over the world.|
Airlines and aircraft manufacturers have delivered new, larger aircraft capable of carrying between 500 and 1,000 passengers, they are the so-called New Large Aircraft (NLA) which feature two decks all along the fuselage. Due to the greater dimensions and advanced technological features presented on them, airport will require changes to cater the operation. The FAA sets the design standards that an airport must be configured to safely serve aircraft with certain wingspans and weight to serve the NLA operates under Design Group VI standards. Many large airports are serving NLA now by placing restrictions on NLA’s ground operations or those of other aircraft such as restricting NLA to designated taxi routes, terminal gates, and runways. However, these restrictions have caused congestion and delay problems, to safely serve the increasing numbers of NLA while efficiently moving air traffic, airports will need to upgrade infrastructures. This section has detailed explanations on how the NLA will affect both the airside and landside designs, and how it should be improved.
The introduction of the new large aircraft, such as the A380, will require investments in the nature of sunk costs, by airports to enable them to handle it, such as in widening runways, expand terminal areas etc, these will lead to problems for pricing, cost recovery, and investment evaluation. Privatization has become an increasingly important trend in the airport industry, accelerating commercialization, competition and introducing even more efficiency
across the airport sector. However, all airport operators must strike a balance between meeting shareholders' expectations and the public interests. The common channels to finance the airport infrastructure updating projects are, privately fund by investment banks or government budget, or self-fund if the airport organisation is economically strong enough, or a combination of all. To give a quick idea about how expensive the upgrading works can be, back in 1997, 20 airports in the U.S. reported to FAA that costs to meet Design Group VI standards would total $6.6 billion. (United States General Accounting Office, 20023)
The main purpose of the NLA is to accommodate the increase in demand for air transportation without overloading the air traffic. Many airports are now constrained by busy airspace and runway capacity, and NLAs are able to move more people more rapidly, helping relieving the effects of air traffic congestion but may have a heavy impact on the landside passenger flow, this is typically defined as a queuing network system with a series of processors, including gates, concourse, immigration checks, baggage claim systems, customs declaration, secondary examination, and lobby, as well as the residents living near the airport area. (Chiu & Walton, 20034) Therefore, the big people mover has brought advantages and disadvantages to the airport operations in the current days and the short future, but these can be managed and solved with scientific operation systems and physical modifications.
One of the main functions of the passenger terminal is change of movement type, which means, the accumulation of passengers who come to the airport in small groups to form batches, and then joint together in the aircraft, finally split into small groups again at the arrival hall, therefore, all passengers will be processed during a short time range despite the aircraft size, and that means the greater aircraft passenger capacity, the greater the passenger facilities, with NLA, the existing departure lounge areas, rest rooms and other facilities need to be increased by at least half of their original sizes. And in fact, most passengers would go on board at the last minute of their departure time to enjoy their freedom of movements as much as they can before stuck in a metal can.
There are a few aspects that have been addressed about how the operations of the aviation industry, include the operation of NLA, are going to affect the environment, for example noise and air quality. The design of the NLA has to comply with today’s noise and emission restrictions, but is it true that aviation is one of the biggest factor that's responsible for global warming effects? And what the future may become? The aircraft manufacturers claim that the new design of A380 will be a lot quieter than many of the current aircrafts in operation today due to the innovative design of engines, and its use of cleaner fuel. (Chiu & Walton, 20034) So will the type of design for A380 become the future of aircraft, or air travel will become a no-no because it's environmental-unfriendly?
Want to know more?
- Air Bus's A380 family
- Planning for the new generation large aircraft
- About the boeing 777