Inside plans for world’s biggest plane that’s longer than a football field

By Staff

Dubbed the WindRunner, the enormous aircraft is tipped to revolutionize renewable energy and will be larger than the current longest commercial aircraft is the Boeing 747-8 at 76.25 m

Engineers have unveiled plans for the world’s largest airplane which is longer than a football pitch.

Dubbed the WindRunner, the enormous aircraft is tipped to revolutionise renewable energy by transporting gigantic wind turbine blades from point A to B. It will measure a vast 108 metres long with a wingspan of 80m.

The current longest commercial aircraft is the Boeing 747-8 at 76.25 m, although that will likely be surpassed by the Boeing 777-9 in the next 12 months, which is slightly longer. Whether it does or not, the WindRunner will likely be half as long again as either plane.

It has been designed by the Colorado-based energy company Radia and has a potential carrying capacity of 80 tons, and will also be able to hold 12 times as much as the Boeing 747-8, the company has said. A runway 1,800m long will be required to accommodate the plane.

The aircraft has been designed with a very specific job in mind – to transport the largest wind turbine blades. Due to their gargantuan size and unwieldiness, the enormous sails have to be taken to offshore wind farms via specialized marine vessels. This limits the location of the farms and the ease of constructing them. WindRunner’s capacity would also pave the way for the development of even larger terrestrial turbines, which would be capable of generating even more power, the company hopes.

“Today’s largest wind turbines and the even larger ones of the future cannot be transported to prime onshore wind farms via ground infrastructure,” Radia writes on its website.

Mark Lundstrom, the MIT-trained rocket scientist who founded the firm, told the Wall Street Journal that he spent the last seven years perfecting the design to ensure the WindRunner didn’t come apart when the rubber hit the runway.

Making more efficient wind turbines will likely be an important part of decarbonising energy production. Wind accounted for 10% of the large-scale electricity generation in the US in 2022, with that number rising to almost 30% in the UK right now.

Radia claims the enormous blade-runners could become a reality in just four years. Industry observers have suggested that the plane could also be used for the slightly less utopian purpose of transporting huge military equipment.

The firm’s website adds: “Our design philosophy for WindRunner focuses on existing technology and safety … using tried-and-true aviation materials, components and fabrication techniques that have FAA approval and are already in mass production.

“Radia’s projects help wind farm developers build more profitable wind farms and expand their market to new locations and new regions. Because WindRunner can help them build in previously unreachable or economically unfeasible sites, they can achieve a higher rate of return, a lower cost of energy and the highest capacity factor. And because we are developers we can offer developers a chance to collaborate on early-stage development projects.”

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