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How Much Do Airplanes Weigh? (With 20 Examples)

To this day it still amazes me how something that can weigh so much can even get airborne! Some of the weights that airplanes take off are staggering. In this article, I want to look at some of the most recognizable aircraft and break down what they weigh and what makes up the weight.

The Boeing 737 can weigh from 132,000lbs/60,000kg to 187,000lbs/85,000kg at takeoff depending on the model, compared to a small Cessna 172 weighing around 2,400lb/1,11kg. An aircraft’s empty weight, fuel, passengers & cargo must not weigh more than the aircraft’s Maximum Gross Takeoff Weight.

The weight of the aircraft is needed to be calculated by the pilot for every flight to ensure the aircraft remains within weight limitations set by the manufacturer. These limitations are to ensure the aircraft is able to perform and recover from all flight maneuvers and withstand structural loading.

Typical Airplane Weights

Below is a table of some of the most common aircraft flying around our skies today:

AircraftEmpty WeightMax Fuel WeightMax Cargo WeightMax Gross Takeoff Weight
Antanov AN-225628,000 lbs
285,000 kg
661,400 lbs
300,000 kg
417,000 lbs
190,000 kg
1,411,000 lbs
640,000 kg
Airbus A380-800611,000 lbs
277,000 kg
560,000 lbs
254,000 kg
185,000 lbs
84,000 kg
1,268,000 lbs
575,000 kg
Boeing 747-800485,300 lbs
220,100 kg
427,400 lbs
194,000 kg
295,000 lbs
134,000 kg
987,000 lbs
447,700 kg
Airbus A340-500370,000 lbs
168,000 kg
386,300 lbs
175,000 kg
119,000 lbs
54,000 kg
820,000 lbs
372,000 kg
Boeing 777-300ER370,000 lbs 168,000 kg 320,800 lbs 145,500 kg148,000 lbs
67,100 kg
776,000 lbs
352,000 kg
Boeing 787-10299,000 lbs 135,500 kg223,500 lbs
101,500 kg
126,300 lbs 57,300 kg560,000 lbs
254,000 kg
Boeing 737-90098,500 lbs
44,700 kg
53,100 lbs
24,000 kg
44,600 lbs
20,200 kg
187,000 lbs
85,000 kg
Airbus A320-10093,900 lbs
42,600 kg
48,700 lbs
22,100 kg
44,000 lbs
20,000 kg
150,000 lbs
68,000 kg
Embraer 19063,500 lbs
28,800 kg
28,600 lbs
13,000 kg
28,800 lbs
13,100 kg
106,000 lbs
48,000 kg
Gulfstream G65054,000 lbs 24,500 kg48,200 lbs 21,900 kg6,500 lbs
3,000 kg
100,000 lbs
45,200 kg
Bombardier CRJ90048,160 lbs 21,850 kg19,600 lbs 8,900 kg6,075 lbs 2,760 kg80,500 lbs
36,500 kg
Bombardier Q40039,300 lbs
17,800 kg
11,700 lbs
5,300 kg
18,700 lbs
8,500 kg
62,000 lbs
28,000 kg
Learjet 7513,900 lbs 6,300 kg6,060 lbs
2,750 kg
2,900 lbs
1,300 kg
21,500 lbs
9,700 kg
Cessna Citation CJ410,300 lbs 4,700 kg5,800 lbs
2,650 kg
2,200 lbs 1,000 kg17,200 lbs
7,800 kg
Beechcraft King Air B1007,100 lbs 3,200 kg3,200 lbs
1,450 kg
4,150 lbs
1,900 kg
12,000 lbs
5,400 kg
Diamond DA50 RG 3,200 lbs
1,450 kg
340 lbs
155 lbs
1,250 lbs
560 kg
4,400 lbs
2,000 kg
Beechcraft Bonanza G362,500 lbs 1,150 kg450 lbs
200 kg
850 lbs
385 kg
3,660 lbs
1,660 kg
Cessna 206H 2,200 lbs
990 kg
520 lbs
235 kg
1,150 lbs
520 kg
3,600 lbs
1,630 kg
Sirrus SR222,250 lbs 1,000 kg485 lbs
220 kg
950 lbs
430 kg
3,600 lbs
1,630 kg
Cessna 172R1,700 lbs
770 kg
380 lbs
170 kg
560 lbs
255 kg
2,425 lbs
1,100 kg
All Links In This Table To
The Antanov AN-225 – Source: Kārlis Dambrāns

What Do Aircraft Weight Names Mean?

You may have been looking at the table above and thinking the numbers don’t work out because if you took the Aircraft Empty Weight and added the Maximum Fuel Weight and Maximum Cargo it could carry, it could be well over the aircraft’s Maximum Gross Weight.

Welcome to the world of aviation! This is where a compromise of fuel vs cargo/passengers is required and is referred to as the Useful Load.

Aircraft Empty Weight (AEW)

This is sometimes referred to as OEW – Operating Empty Weight and it is the weight of the aircraft with all its equipment on board but no fuel, no passengers or no cargo.

Think of this like the aircraft has just come out of the factory and is sitting waiting to be fueled up for delivery to the customer.

Aircraft Maximum Gross Takeoff Weight (MGTW)

This is the maximum permissible weight the aircraft can weigh as it lifts off the ground at takeoff. This includes the aircraft’s empty weight, the fuel, the crew, the passengers, and all the cargo.

This weight limit is set by the manufacturer and is gospel. Many aircraft accidents have been caused by an aircraft being overweight and the pilot/s have not had enough power or maneuverability to prevent the accident.

Aircraft Useful Load

This is the weight that a pilot can place in the aircraft. Take the MGTW figure and subtract the AEW and this is the total useful load that can be placed into the aircraft. This is the fuel, crew, passengers, and cargo. The bigger the load, the more useful the aircraft can be to its customers!

How Fuel, Passengers & Cargo Affect Aircraft Weight

Each item of weight added to the aircraft has to be accounted for and some items can be left off the flight and others not so much. There are several scenarios we can look at, and for these examples, I will use the Astar helicopter I fly, as it is really easy for me to work out the numbers:

Eurocopter AS350 Astar B2 Helicopter

AS350 Astar B2 Helicopter Specs:

Aircraft Empty Weight: 3000 lbs
Aircraft Maximum Gross Weight: 4961 lbs
Aircraft Maximum Fuel Weight: 1000 lbs
Aircraft Useful Load: 1961 lbs

Scenario #1: All Fuel & No Cargo or Passengers

This would be on a flight when I have finished a job and I am returning back to the hanger after dropping off the passengers and their cargo:

  • Aircraft Empty Weight: 3000 lbs
  • Pilot Weight: 185 lbs
  • Aircraft Full Fuel Weight: 1000 lbs
  • Total Aircraft Weight = 4,185 lbs (776 lbs under MGTW)
Scenario #2: Full Passengers & 200 lbs of Cargo

This would be on a flight when I am starting a job in the morning and I am departing from the hanger with a work crew and their tools:

  • Aircraft Empty Weight: 3000 lbs
  • Pilot Weight: 185 lbs
  • Passengers Weight: 950 lbs
  • Cargo Weight: 200 lbs
  • Aircraft Full Fuel Weight: 1000 lbs
  • Total Aircraft Weight = 5,335 lbs (374 lbs OVER MGTW)

In this scenario I would need to offload weight. The 3 variables are:-

  • Passengers
  • Cargo
  • Fuel

Usually, the passengers and their cargo need to go as they are the ones doing the work, so fuel has to be reduced. Instead of filling the aircraft fuel tank up to 100%, I can only fill it to around 60% to keep the aircraft under its MGTW.

This just means that I may need to refuel more often or plan the day to have a fuel stop en route somewhere.

To Finish

Because the maximum Gross Takeoff Weight of an aircraft is so important it a listed in the Limitations Section of every aircraft flight manual. The exceedance of any weight in the limitations section deems the aircraft unairworthy.

Even the mammoth Antanov AN-225 has a maximum weight limit which the flight crew must adhere to, albeit considerably higher than the maximum takeoff weight of a Gulfstream G650!

This compromising is what pilots do for every flight to ensure the maximum fuel can be taken given the load to be lifted by the aircraft. No matter what aircraft are taking to the skies, the same calculations are the same for every aircraft! Fuel, Passengers, Cargo – That’s all the pilots can manipulate!

Further Reading

If you found this article interesting and would like to keep reading, I highly recommend the following articles from my blog:

Rick James

I am an aviation nut! I'm an ATP rated helicopter pilot & former flight instructor with over 3000 hours spanning 3 countries and many different flying jobs. I love aviation and everything about it. I use these articles to pass on cool facts and information to you whether you are a pilot or just love aviation too! If you want to know more about me, just click on my picture!

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