World’s Largest Aircraft: The 360ft ‘Mega Plane’ With A Futuristic Agenda

Colorado-based startup, Radia, is set to break aviation records with the development of the world's largest aircraft.

World’s Largest Aircraft: The 360ft ‘Mega Plane’ With A Futuristic Agenda

Image: Radia

In recent days we’ve been a little preoccupied with the aviation of yesteryear, covering the oldest planes still gracing Australia’s skies and the ‘Gastronomic Gatekeeping’ that defined 1970s air travel. Now, it’s high time we turn our attention to a cutting-edge airline with plans to launch the world’s largest-ever aircraft…

Colorado-based energy startup, Radia, is set to break aviation records with the development of the world’s largest aircraft. Dubbed the ‘WindRunner‘, this behemoth 360-foot-long ‘mega plane’ is designed to tackle a much-needed and futuristic mission: delivering gigantic 300-foot-long wind turbine blades to wind farms.

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It goes without saying that the global energy crisis has heightened demand for renewable energy around the world, and onshore wind farms represent one of the most promising solutions at present time. However, the transportation of large wind turbine parts has posed a massive barrier to rolling these outs at scale, given their size and the infrastructural imitations of transporting them by road. Enter the WindRunner…

Suffice to say, this is a long way from your standard commercial airliner. Rather, it’s a cargo bay with wings, and a colossal cargo bay at that: with a volume of 272,000 cubic feet — equivalent to three Olympic swimming pools — it is 12 times the size of a Boeing 747-400 and boasts a wingspan of 261 feet.

Surpassing the Antonov An-225, the previous world’s heaviest aircraft, what really sets this vehicle apart is its ability to land on simple packed-dirt or gravel runways, requiring airstrips as short as 6,000 feet. Flying out of regional hubs, it hopes to deliver wind turbine blades to wherever they’re needed most, using specialised, sustainable fuel as it goes.

Image: Radia

Any business-savvy reader will probably have guessed by this point that Radia’s operations extend beyond the distribution of turbines alone; it’s also developing the so-called ‘GigaWind’ turbines themselves, which are two to three times more powerful (and profitable…) than standard turbines.

The brains behind the project include Mark Lundstrum, an MIT aerospace engineer and cross-industry entrepreneur, who founded Radia back in 2016. The advisory team boasts former executives from Boeing (hopefully the ones more concerned with quality control…), Rolls-Royce, and the FAA, as well as bigwigs like former US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and controversial former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Radia hopes to get these planes airborne by the end of the decade, but whether that dream becomes a reality depends on a lot of regulatory approvals and a very solid cashflow. Watch this space…