Types of Airplanes in the World

The aviation industry has a very long history, and it is one that has evolved with the years into a very important area of human life.

What started with the dreams of the ancient civilization, and became a reality with the achievement of the Wright brothers, has now become an amazing industry where we can see a wide variety of airplanes types developed with the purpose of covering the specific need of the moment.

From helping us to move around the world to developing a global economy where goods can be traded around easily, different types of airplanes have found a place in our lives.

Are you ready to learn about some of the most interesting types of airplanes that you can find around the world? Keep reading as we share all the details about them.

How many types of airplanes are there?

Although a common and interesting question, this is a difficult one to answer since there is not a clear classification, there are some enthusiasts that dare to give some numbers.

For example, says that according to their research there are 39,000 airplanes without including light aircraft. Also, they go on by saying that there have been around 150,000 throughout history.

What is true is that there are a lot now. Here below we want to shed some light on the most common and interesting types of airplanes. Covering them all is not really practical.

What are the kinds of aircraft?

This is perhaps a more reasonable question and one that we can answer more accurately.

First of all, it is important to understand that aircraft involve all vehicles that can fly by getting air support either by buoyancy or by the dynamic action of air on their surfaces. In other words, aircraft include airplanes but also other vehicles like helicopters, and even balloons.

Therefore, the kinds of aircraft can be placed in two general categories: lighter-than-air aircraft and heavier-than-air aircraft.

While lighter-than-air includes such things as balloons, nonrigid airships also called blimps, and dirigibles, the heavier-than-air category includes the most common types of airplanes such as light jets, jumbo jets, cargo planes, among others.

Focusing on the second group, we can find different subcategories. For example, we could speak about jet aircraft like private jets, commercial jets, and military jets. Or we could speak about how they are classified in terms of the engines they use such as propeller planes, turboprop aircraft, piston aircraft, and those with gas turbine engines or jet engines. Also, you could use the size of the body, like narrow and wide-body planes, or by the type of their wings, like the case of fixed-wing aircraft.

For the purpose of this guide, we are going to take a more general approach and share the most common and interesting ones of them all. Let’s get into it now.

Fighter jets

As you can imagine, fighter jets are among the military aircraft, and they are the ones used by the air forces in air combat.

While these airplanes are not regularly seen by most people, they are a very interesting type. Costing billions of US dollars to develop, these jets are usually very fast reaching supersonic speeds, and they have high levels of maneuverability. As you can expect, most of them take off from air force bases, but some of them can be launched from navy carriers.

Of course, while in combat, they usually fly fully armed, carrying any arms from machine guns to guided missiles. Fortunately, these military aircraft are mostly used to train pilots in the air force.

Private jets

Private jets come in many forms, but especially in many sizes. So, to better describe private jets we will use their sizes.

Closeup view of business jet airplane parked at outside and waiting vip persons. Luxury tourism and business travel transportation concept. 3d rendering

Very light jets

Sometimes called by the acronym VLJ, very light jets are those usually containing seats for eight passengers at the most and only capable of covering short distances. But let’s not focus on the limitations only.

These jets are great business jets options for purposes like air taxi services. Since they are small and simple, they do not require an entire flight crew, but only a pilot. So, costs can be reduced, something critical for any business.

Light jets

The main characteristic for a jet to be considered a light jet is that it must have a maximum takeoff weight of 20,000 pounds (about 9100 kilograms).

Most light passenger jets can keep an average cruising speed of about 500 mph (about 805 km/h), which is at the same level as most commercial planes. This makes them a great option for private travel to distances longer than the ones a VLJ can cover, as these jet planes can carry passengers over 2,400 nautical miles or more.

Another difference with the very light jets is that light business jets are generally equipped with a dedicated lavatory compartment, and special technology including but not limited to a satellite phone, Wi-Fi, and XM radio communications. The latter makes it possible for passengers to take care of their business during the flight.

Mid-size jets

The next step is mid-size business jets, which are bigger than a light jet but not as big as a jumbo jet.

This type of jet plane is large enough for 10 passengers to travel comfortably, and it usually offers more luxurious equipment and amenities than smaller aircraft.

Mid-size jets have average cruising speeds are similar to those found in the previous type, but these have the ability to cover even longer distances, generally around 3,000 nautical miles.

While there are some considered super mid-size passenger jets, which offer higher speeds reaching about 580 mph (over 930 km/h) and longer distances covering up to 3,600 nautical miles, the standard versions are usually preferred because they tend to be more cost-effective and fuel-efficient while still offering the comfort of having enough luggage space and full stand up cabins.

Jumbo jets

Although many could think that this size is reserved for commercial jets used by airlines, the also called heavy business jets are usually prepared to be VIP luxurious airplanes for big organizations or the wealthiest people in the world.

Apart from serving to show off how wealthy these people are, this type of airplane provides the opportunity to have full conferences while completing very long flights of over 6,000 nautical miles. While airlines use these jets to accommodate even hundreds of passengers, as private jets it is more common to see accommodation for up to 18 passengers and take advantage of the remaining space to improve functionality and amenities for those passengers.

A good example is the Air Force One, the presidential airplane of the United States of America where the president can have his team meet him and help him prepare before any important event in a foreign country.

Private propeller planes

While not exactly in the jet category, propeller planes are common among private airplanes. These options tend to be a good starting point for the aviation enthusiast before getting its first jet.

Also, due to the low operating costs and the possibility to cover distances in the 100-500 mile range, they are commonly leased for flight training purposes. What’s more, these planes are one of the most used vehicles in remote areas like Alaska, where road trips and other forms of transportation are difficult to use due to the nature of the region.

Turboprop airplanes

These could be considered a variation of the previous ones although the engines are more like those found on a jet.

One of the main differences is the ability to cover longer distances with a travel rating that exceeds 1,000 miles. However, turboprops have operating costs similar to a jet, which is why they are offered by leasing companies to customers that require longer hauls only. Otherwise, they would lease smaller aircraft.

Amphibious aircraft

As the name implies, this type of aircraft is one that can both land and take off from the water, usually from calm water masses like a lake. But they are not limited to water.

Amphibious planes have also been prepared to be used in snowy areas, and sometimes they have wheels that can be retracted, so they can either use the water or the ground to land.

Unfortunately, to achieve all these, aircraft is usually too heavy and maintenance becomes expensive as it needs to be more done more often. So, many airplanes in this category have already disappeared.

For more information about airplanes read our article

How Did Airplanes Change Ways Of Life?

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