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The Next World's Biggest Plane Could Be 12 Times Larger Than the Boeing 747

The Next World's Biggest Plane Could Be 12 Times Larger Than the Boeing 747

BY DANIEL REN Published on March 21, 2024 4 COMMENTS

With today's alarm bells ringing about the global energy crisis, onshore wind farms have been offered as one potential solution. Onshore wind farms generate power from land with the natural movements of wind, which benefits the environment by reducing emissions significantly compared to other energy sources. Radia, a Colorado-based energy startup, has been developing the world's largest aircraft in aviation history. 


The WindRunner | Photo: Radia


The Aircraft


Dubbed The WindRunner, it dwarfs the Boeing 747. It will have a cargo bay volume of 272,000 cubic feet, a length of 356 feet (109 meters), and a wingspan of 261 feet (80 meters). The aircraft's specs make it have 12 times the volume of a Boeing 747 while also being 127 feet (39 meters) longer. Besides the Boeing 747, it will also be larger than the Antonov An-225, the heaviest aircraft built so far but destroyed towards the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 




Although the aircraft will be very large, its engineering is not groundbreaking. With Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval, Radia will use existing technology, tried and true aviation materials, components, and fabrication techniques. Doing so allows Radia to reduce its risk when building the WindRunner. While Radia has not confirmed a timeline, other online reports have speculated that commercial operations could begin as soon as 2027.


Radia WindRunner: World's Largest Plane is Twice the Size of Lady Liberty,  Carries More Cargo Than Boeing 747 | Tech Times
Pilots go on the top of the aircraft | Photo: Radia


The aircraft will operate from regional hubs, delivering 300-foot (91-meter)-long blades directly to wind farms. Radia says it "can land on airstrips as short as 6,000 feet (1,800 meters), something no other large commercial aircraft can achieve." To help further contribute to meeting world decarbonization targets, the WindRunner will use sustainable aviation fuel and only require a dirt or gravel runway for landing.




Mark Lundstrom, Radia's Founder and CEO, said:


“Radia will create a step-function improvement for onshore wind in profitability, lower cost, and higher consistency. This will result in more wind projects, more green fuel projects, lower energy price, more profits, and more money being invested in the energy transition.”


WindRunner Impacts


Radia is counting on Bloomberg NEF's estimation that up to $10 trillion will be spent on onshore wind farms until 2050. Currently, onshore turbine blades have an average length of up to 230 feet (70 meters). Offshore wind turbines, however, have blades longer than 341 feet (104 meters). It is nearly impossible to build onshore wind farms with turbine blades of that scale due to how difficult it is to move on the road. Even with blades that are half as long, transporting them is still a logistical nightmare. 


WindRunner: Gigantic new aircraft design aims to create the largest plane  ever to fly | CNN
Blades being loaded onto the WindRunner | Photo: Radia


If onshore wind farms could be built at the scale of offshore wind farms, harvesting even more wind energy would be cheaper. This phenomenon is all thanks to the disproportionate gains in harvesting energy from every bit of length added to a turbine. 


To underscore the importance of increasing the scale of onshore wind farms, Radia has raised almost $100 million for the cause. It estimates that when bigger turbines can be transported, onshore wind farm developers could reduce their energy harvesting costs by up to 35%. Additionally, its aircraft will make wind farms viable in even more locations, which will help further reduce carbon emissions globally.  


Lundstrom added about the aircraft's potential to revolutionize the sector:


“Offshore turbines are more than two times as powerful as onshore turbines because they are bigger.If we could move these large turbines onshore, they would be twice as profitable and open up three times more land for economically viable wind farms. Why not put them onshore? Because literal roadblocks stand in the way.


Radia will respond by building WindRunner to overcome these barriers, bring the benefits of offshore wind onshore, and deliver what we call GigaWind – the largest land-based turbines today and the even larger ones of the future.”



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Comments (4)

Lewis It will never leave leave the ground. Bunch of radical yoyos.
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