Most people would correctly guess that the A380 is the widest passenger aircraft currently flying (it is also the heaviest, but not the longest). But what about the others? It can be hard to tell! We take a quick look in this article at the five widest passenger aircraft ever built.
For clarity, a widebody is any aircraft wide enough to offer two passenger aisles. The widebody era began in 1970 with the introduction of the Boeing 747, and we have seen many developments since then. Originally only quad jets, there are now many twin jet widebodies. Widebody fans should take a look at our article on which airlines operate widebody only fleets.
We focus here though on the external size of these aircraft, and rank the top five by width. In particular, this is based on full fuselage external width (with data as recorded by Wikipedia).
Of course, the widest aircraft is the Airbus A380. It has a width of 7.14 meters, over 0.6 meters wider than its closest rival. It is the largest passenger aircraft ever built, with a maximum take-off weight of 575 tonnes (and an empty weight of 277 tonnes). Stretched, longer versions of the A380 (though not wider) were planned, but have not been developed.
The A380 entered service in 2007, with Singapore Airlines. There have been 251 aircraft ordered (with 242 delivered). Airlines have struggled with the size though. The economics and logistics of operating such a large aircraft have led to a decrease in interest, and production will end when current orders are delivered.
With the shift to lower capacity, twin-engine widebodies that is currently seen, it seems unlikely there will be a wider challenger developed any time soon.
In second place is the Boeing 747. This has a width of 6.5 meters (and an internal cabin width of 6.08 meters). The 747 is the original, first developed widebody and one of the most iconic aircraft ever built.
It has seen several variants since the launch of the original 747-100 in 1970. There have been increases in length, with the new 747-8 being the longest widebody in service currently at 76.25 meters (it will be just beaten by the 777X). But all variants share the same fuselage design and width.