airplanes and wingspan facts

Airplanes And Wingspan – 9 Facts You Need To Know

Last updated on February 9th, 2024 at 10:56 pm

Have you ever been on an airplane and wondered how big it’s wingspan is?

Not all airplanes have the same wingspan, it is specific to each aircraft type.

This article will show you some great examples of airplane wingspans along with 9 facts that you will find interesting.

1. What is the wingspan on an airplane?

The wingspan on an airplane is the distance measured from one wingtip to the other wingtip. This is normally measured in feet.

The actual definition of wingspan is the maximum extent across the wings of an aircraft or of a bird or other flying animal, measured from tip to tip. According to the Oxford dictionary.

So it’s not just airplanes that have wingspan, birds and other animals that fly have it as well.

airplane wingspan diagram

2. How do you measure the wingspan of an airplane?

The wingspan of an airplane is always measured in a straight line from wingtip to wingtip.

The shape or sweepback of the wing is irrelevant as the wingspan distance is measured in a straight line.

3. What is the world’s largest airplane wingspan?

There are many aircraft in the world with very large wingspans. But as of now, the largest known is the Stratolaunch which has a wingspan of 385 feet.

This aircraft which has a twin-fuselage and 6 Boeing 747 jet engines, did its first flight from Mojave Air and Space Port which lasted 2 hours. Read more on the Stratolaunch here.

4. What is the largest passenger aircraft wingspan?

The world’s largest passenger aircraft is the Airbus A380 which has a wingspan of 261.8 feet.

The A380 is a double-decker aircraft that holds 555 passengers. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 1.2 million pounds. The A380 is not the largest airplane in the world, but it is the largest airplane that carries passengers.

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5. What is the shortest wingspan on an airplane?

The airplane with the smallest wingspan is the Starr Bumble Bee 2 with a wingspan of 5 feet 6 inches long.

This aircraft holds the record for the world’s smallest piloted aircraft. The Bumble Bee 2 was designed by Robert Starr in Phoenix Arizona and flown in 1988.

The Bumble Bee 1 was also designed by Robert Starr and was flown from 1984 – 1986. It is now on permanent display in a museum.

6. Aircraft wingspan examples

The following chart shows the wingspan of some of the most common aircraft. This includes small private airplanes and large commercial passenger jet aircraft.

Aircraft TypeWingspan FeetWingspan Meters
Cessna 17236′ 1″ 11
Cessna Citation52′ 2″15.9
Boeing 737-800117′ 5″35.8
Boeing 747-400195′ 8″59.67
Airbus A320112′34.1
Airbus A340197′ 8″60.28
Aircraft wingspan examples

7. What do wings do on an airplane?

The wings on an aircraft are responsible for the creation of lift which keeps the plane in the air. Lift is one of the 4 forces of flight along with weight, drag, and thrust.

Lift is created by the airflow which moves over and under the wing. The airflow over the top of the wing is lower pressure than the airflow underneath. This causes an upward force called lift.

8. What are wings made of?

Modern aircraft wings are made out of aerospace-grade aluminum and aluminum alloys along with other metals. It is also common to see airplane wings made with composite materials like carbon fiber.

These materials are ideal for aircraft as they are lightweight, very durable, best for fuel economy, and resistant to corrosion.

Aircraft wings are extremely strong and designed to withstand forces that are more severe than possibly seen during a flight.

9. Other parts of an airplane wing

There is more to an airplane wing than just the wing itself. Many other parts are attached and play important roles of an aircraft during flight.

These include:

  • Flaps
  • Aileron
  • Winglets
  • Slats
  • Spoilers

There are many other parts but these are the most common.

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