The Antonov 225 is the largest cargo plane in the world. But how much bigger could you REALISTICALLY make it if money wasn't a problem? Could it be say twice as wide? Carry twice the weight?

What materials and physics constraints are engineers up against? Is there a limit on today's materials to make a larger cargo hold or wings that could stand the bending moments of more engines and fuel in the wings? Would runways not be able to stand any extra weight than the 225 can already carry?

  • $\begingroup$ You should check out the Scaled Composites Stratolaunch, which is currently the largest plane by wingspan in the world. $\endgroup$ – Sanchises Aug 17 '17 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ Having said that, engineers solve all the challenges they run in to when they designed these behemoths, but no more. I think your question is impossible to answer until someone to design such a plane. $\endgroup$ – Sanchises Aug 17 '17 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ "Realistic" and "if money wasn't a problem" are inconsistent assumptions. What is realistic is driven as much by economics as by the theoretical (but only achievable at extreme expense) limits of engineering. How big could it be if the whole thing was built with titanium & powered by hydrazine? Pretty huge, I bet. But is a billion-dollar-a-copy Antonov realistic? Pretty doubtful. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Aug 17 '17 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ I don't necessarily see the contradiction. You can ask what is in the realm of possibility given the materials limits, but forgoing the financial ones. Sure, this makes it a "theoretical" limit, but that's easily fixable semantics. Plenty of scientific studies look at what's "theoretically" achievable. $\endgroup$ – Federico Aug 17 '17 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ oh, hey, a related question with 79 upvotes! I wonder what's happening to the people here that need to downvote so quickly everything that they don't know how to answer. $\endgroup$ – Federico Aug 17 '17 at 12:02

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