Scaled Composites Flies World's Largest Wingspan Aircraft

©Scaled Composites

Scaled Composites Flies World’s Largest Wingspan Aircraft.

Scaled Composites, LLC made aviation history today with the flight of the largest wingspan aircraft. During this initial flight, the team tested out specific handling qualities to validate the design.

The aircraft took flight at 0658 PDT on the runway in Mojave, California. The plane, piloted by Evan Thomas and Chris Guarente, flew for 149 minutes, reaching a max speed of 165 KIAS before landing safely at 0927 PDT.

"Today has been great. The airplane flew as predicted. It was a very smooth flight and the team had a lot of fun," said Test Pilot Evan Thomas. "This flight really is a tribute to the hard work of all of the men and women who have worked tirelessly over the years making this program a reality."

Scaled Composites has been working with Stratolaunch since 2011 designing, building, and testing the world's largest composite aircraft. Paul Allen's mission for Stratolaunch was developing an air launch platform to make access to space more convenient, reliable, and routine. Scaled and Stratolaunch continue this mission.

"The Scaled team excels at tackling the hardest problems in aviation. We have test flown an average of one new aircraft type per year over our 37 year history," said Cory Bird, president of Scaled Composites. "Together with Stratolaunch, we have reached another aviation first by flying the world's largest all‐composite aircraft and moving closer to increasing the accessibility of space launch."

"Northrop Grumman's Scaled Composites team has once again set a new standard in aviation with the first flight of the Stratolaunch aircraft. Scaled's ability to design, build and test is second to none," said Scott Winship, sector vice president, Aerospace Systems, Northrop Grumman Corporation.

About the Stratolaunch Aircraft:

The Stratolaunch aircraft, Scaled Model 351, is a twin‐fuselage launch platform built to deliver payloads into space at multiple orbits and inclinations during one mission.
The large aircraft project has been an idea Burt Rutan has played with for over 20 years. Various designs have been explored as customer interest came and went. Prior to the final contract, Scaled worked to validate fabrication costs by building demonstration pieces to lower the cost of pounds of material labor to man hour. This factor drove the overarching design of the aircraft - flat‐sided fuselages with a mostly straight wing. Many world records are expected to be claimed once the vehicle is validated. The top two record claims are world's largest aircraft by wingspan, and world's largest all-composite vehicle.

Stratolaunch Vehicle Facts:

- Announced 12/2011
- Payload Capacity - 550,000 lbs
- Maximum Take‐off Weight - 1,300,000 lbs
- Operational Range - 2000 NM; Mission Radius - 1000 NM
- Mission Time - 2‐8 hours
- Top of Tail Height - 50 ft
- Wing Height - 23 ft off the ground
- Wing Span - 385 ft
- Fuselage Length - 238 ft
- Fuselage Separation - 95 ft
- Propulsion - 6 PW4056 turbofan engines
- Crew - 2 pilots, 1 flight engineer

Stratolaunch Vehicle Record Claims:

- Largest all‐composite plane ever built and flown
- World's largest aircraft by wingspan
- Greatest total thrust on an aircraft
- Largest single piece of carbon structure

About Scaled

Scaled Composites is a specialty aerospace and composites development company offering design, build, and test capabilities. Founded by Burt Rutan in 1982 and located in Mojave, CA, Scaled has averaged one first flight of a unique, new airplane per year.

Our employees come from a diverse background of talents, experience, and interests. This unique combination of individuals helps promote an innovative and creative atmosphere. Scaled offers the opportunity to pursue career and personal interests in a manner that can be found nowhere else by following one simple rule: have fun.

Scaled Composites is under the management of Allied Holdings, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corporation.

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