Airliner The Boeing 747 was the first wide-body airliner. Pictured is the 747-8I model which first flew in 2011.
An airliner is a large fixed-wing aircraft for transporting passengers and cargo. Such aircraft are operated by airlines. Although the definition of an airliner can vary from country to country, an airliner is typically defined as an aircraft intended for carrying multiple passengers in commercial service.
- 1 History
- 2 Types
- 3 Engines
- 4 Airliner variants
- 5 Layout
- 6 Manufacturers
- 7 Notable airliners
- 8 Airliner recycling
- 9 Cabin configurations and features
- 10 Baggage holds
- 11 See also
- 12 Reference
- 13 External links and references
When the Wright brothers made the world’s first sustained heavier-than-air flight, they laid the foundation for what would become a major transport industry. Their flight in 1903 was just 11 years before what is often defined as the world’s first airliner. These airliners would change the world socially, economically, and politically in a way that had never been done before.
If an airliner is defined as a plane intended for carrying multiple passengers in commercial service, the Russian Sikorsky Ilya Muromets was the first official passenger aircraft. The Ilya Muromets was a luxurious aircraft with an isolated passenger saloon, wicker chairs, bedroom, lounge and a bathroom. The aircraft also had heating and electrical lighting. The Ilya Muromets first flew on December 10, 1913. On February 25, 1914, it took off for its first demonstration flight with 16 passengers aboard. From June 21 – June 23, it made a round-trip from Saint Petersburg to Kiev in 14 hours and 38 minutes with one intermediate landing. If it had not been for World War I, the Ilya Muromets would have probably started passenger flights that same year.
The second airliner was the Farman F.60 Goliath from 1919, which could seat up to 14 passengers, approximately 60 were built. The world's first all-metal aircraft was the Junkers F.13, also from 1919 with 322 built.
The Ford Trimotor was an important early airliner. With two engines mounted on the wings and one in the nose and a slabsided body, it carried eight passengers and was produced from 1925 to 1933. It was used by the predecessor to TWA as well as other airlines long after production ceased. In 1932 the 14-passenger Douglas DC-2 flew and in 1935 the more powerful, faster, 21–32 passenger Douglas DC-3. DC-3s were produced in quantity for WWII and sold as surplus afterward.The Douglas DC-3 was a particularly important airplane because it was the first airliner to be profitable without a government subsidy.
The first jet airliners came in the immediate post war era. Turbojet engines were trialled on piston engine airframes such as the Avro Lancastrian and the Vickers VC.1 Viking the latter becoming the first jet engined passenger aircraft in April 1948. The first purpose built jet airliners were the de Havilland Comet (UK) and the Avro Jetliner (Canada). The former entered production and service while the latter did not. The Comet was unfortunate in that metal fatigue caused by the square shape of the windows in early versions could cause crashes.
Jets did not immediately replace piston engines and many designs used the turboprop rather than the turbojet or the later turbofan engines.
Postwar airliner history in the United States
The United States gained a huge advantage in design and production in the airline industry in the years leading up to the war, but many of the developments would be put off until after the war as the manufacturing efforts were placed on the war effort. The advancements that the United States would make in this industry were in large due to the cooperation of the airlines discussing what they desired with the airliner manufacturers. Soon after the war though Douglas made a large advancement with the DC-4, although this could not cross the Atlantic at every point, it was able to make a nonstop flight from New York to the United Kingdom. Due to the war going on, the first batch of these planes went to the US Army and Air Forces, and was named the C-54 Skymaster. Some of these that were used in the war would later be converted for the airline industry, along with the passenger and cargo versions that were placed on the market once the war ended. Douglas would later develop a version of this plane that was pressurized and 5 feet longer; this redesigned plane would become the DC-6. These DC-6s would be grounded for 6 months to rectify a few safety issues that were causing in-flight fires.
Soon after the DC-4, Lockheed developed the distinctive tri-tail Constellation. An aviation breakthrough, it was the first pressurized airliner, allowing it to fly higher, and therefore further and faster than ever before. Its fuselage was some 127 inches wider than the DC-4's. Drafted by the military in WWII, it experienced a similar late entry into the civilian airline industry. Safety concerns grounded it for six months soon after it entered service while problems were investigated and repaired.
In 1947 the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser entered the industry with a completely different design than Douglas and Lockheed aircraft. Based on the C-97 military transport, it had a double deck and pressurized fuselage. Luxury and a 100 passenger capacity distinguished it from its rivals. While 900 C-97s were supplied to the military only 55 were produced for civil aviation.
The American companies had done a great job of advancing the status of transcontinental travel, but there was also the aging fleet of DC-3s that had to be addressed. Convair decided that they were going to address this market, and would begin producing the Convair 240 which was a 40 person fully pressurized plane. There were 566 of these planes that would fly, including 2 that were equipped with jet-assisted take off units. Convair would later develop the Convair 340, which was slightly larger and could accommodate between 44 and 52 passengers, and there were 311 of this model plane were produced. Finally Convair would create a Convair 440, which had small modifications including much better soundproofing than the previous models. Convair would experience a little bit of competition from the Martin 2-0-2 and Martin 4-0-4, but in general Convair was able to control this market, as the 2-0-2 had safety concerns and was unpressurized, and the 4-0-4 only sold around 100 units.
The United States was dominant in this industry for several reasons including a large domestic market for these planes. The market would also work in the United States favor as the American companies began to build pressurized airliners. During the postwar years engines became much larger and more powerful, and safety features such as deicing, navigation, and weather were added to the planes. Lastly, the planes produced in the United States were more comfortable and had superior flight decks than those produced in Europe.
Postwar airliner history in Great Britain
Great Britain was in a very different position after the war than the United States. Unlike the United States, Great Britain had a small domestic market and almost all of the airplane construction that had take place domestically was for war. In December 1942 the British government had a committee put in place to set classifications for airplanes ranging from Non-Stop North Atlantic airplanes to Small Piston-engine airplanes for light traffic. These classifications were set up to encourage development of airliners of all types. In order to recover from the difficulties that this caused many of the postwar airliners were bombers that were converted to allow for commercial air travel, but this was not very economical as the planes could hold very few people. The first postwar program that was attempted in Great Britain was the Tudor airliner, however this was regarded as a failure due to safety concerns and few sales. The first successful British Airliner was a Vickers Armstrongs Viking. These were unpressurized and could hold between 21 and 27 people depending on the model. On April 6, 1948 one of these Viking airliners became the first jet-airliner to fly. The previous engines were now replaced with Rolls-Royce Nene Turbojets. In 1946 the Bristol 170 was the first transport aircraft to receive a Certificate of Airworthiness from the British government. This plane remained in production for 12 years with 214 of the aircraft built. The British would also produce several smaller aircraft such as the Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador in 1947 and the Miles M.57 Aerovan in 1945, and the DH Dove and its four-engined cousin the Heron. Most of the British planes produced in the postwar era were smaller planes that carried less than 30 passengers, and did not sell as well as some of the planes produced in the United States, but these planes were enough to help the British airline industry from the lack of commercial production during the war. 
Postwar airliner history in France
In the postwar years France developed a few significant airliners, some of these being planes that could land on water, part of the reason that the French companies were so focused on these flying boats is that in 1936 the French Air Ministry requested transatlantic flying boats that could hold at least 40 passengers. Only one model from this request would ever be put into service. The first set of these was 3 Latecoere 631’s that Air France purchased and put into service in July 1947. However, two of these planes crashed, and the third plane was soon removed because of these safety concerns. There would later be a SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc build, which was a much more successful plane, and over 100 of these were built, with 40 of them being placed into service through Air-France. The French also developed the Breguet 763 Deux Ponts, which first flew in February 1949 . This was a double-decker transport airliner that would end up being used for both people and cargo. This four-engine airliner would end up being used to hold massive amounts of cargo or 97 passengers. After a long silence, France then created the Caravelle, the world's first short-to-midrange jet airliner. Subsequent French efforts were part of the Airbus pan-european initiative.
Postwar airliner history in the USSR
Soon after the war most of the Soviet fleet of airliners consisted of DC-3s or the Lisunov Li-2. These planes were in desperate need of replacement, and in 1946 the Ilyushin Il-12 made its first flight. The Il-12 was very similar in design to American Convair 240, except was unpressurized. In 1953 the Ilyushin Il-14 would make its first flight, and this version was equipped with much more powerful engines.The main contribution that the Soviets made in regards to Airliners was the Antonov An-2. This plane is a biplane unlike most of the other airliners and sold more units than any other transport plane.
The largest airliners are wide-body jets. These aircraft are frequently called twin-aisle aircraft because they generally have two separate aisles running from the front to the back of the passenger cabin. Aircraft in this category are the Boeing 747, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Boeing 787, Airbus A300/A310, Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Airbus A380, Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, Ilyushin Il-86 and Ilyushin Il-96. These aircraft are usually used for long-haul flights between airline hubs and major cities with many passengers. Future wide-body models include the Airbus A350.
A smaller, more common class of airliners is the narrow-body or single aisle aircraft. These smaller airliners are generally used for medium-distance flights with fewer passengers than their wide-body counterparts.
Examples include the Boeing 717, 737, 757, McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and MD-80/MD-90 series, Airbus A320 family, Tupolev Tu-204, Tu-214, Embraer E-Jets 190&195 and Tu-334. Older airliners like the Boeing 707, 727, Douglas DC-8, Fokker F70/F100, VC10, Tupolev, and Yakovlev jets also fit into this category.
Short haul airliners used by airlines and regional airlines
Regional airliners - Small (Regional) short haul airliners typically seat fewer than 100 passengers and may be powered by turbofans or turboprops.
These airliners, although smaller than aircraft operated by most major carriers, legacy carriers, or flag carriers, frequently serve customers who expect service similar to that offered by the larger airlines with their longer-ranged, larger airliners.
Therefore, these short-haul airliners are usually equipped with lavatories, stand up cabins, pressurization, overhead storage bins, reclining seats, and have a flight attendant to look after the in-flight needs of the passengers during point-to-point or routes.
Because these aircraft are frequently operated by smaller airlines that are contracted to provide ("feed") passengers from smaller cities to hub airports (and reverse) for a "major" or "flag" carrier, regional airliners may be painted in the liveries of the major airline for whom they provide this "feeder" service. (See below)
Feederliner aircraft used by regional airlines
Regional airliners - (Regional) Feederliners typically seat fewer than 100 passengers and may be powered by turbofans or turboprops. These airliners, are the non mainline counterparts to the larger aircraft operated by the; major carriers, legacy carriers, and flag carriers and are used to feed traffic into the large airline hubs or focus cities. These particular routes may need the size of a smaller aircraft to meet the frequency needs and service levels, customers expect in the marketed product that is offered by larger airlines and their modern narrow and widebody aircraft. Therefore, most regional airliners are equipped with lavatories and have a flight attendant to look after the in-flight needs of the passengers, along with the features of a short haul regional airliner.
Typical aircraft in this category include the Bombardier CRJ and Embraer ERJ regional jets along with the "Q" (DASH-8) series, ATR 42/72 and Saab 340/2000 turboprop airliners. Airlines and their partners sometimes use these for flights between small hubs, or for bringing passengers to hub cities where they may board larger aircraft. Typically, these regional feederliners, are painted in the aircraft liveries and color schemes of the much larger airline partners so the regional airlines may offer and market a seamless transition between the larger airline to smaller airline.
Commuterliner aircraft used by regional airlines and air taxi charter operators
The lightest (light aircraft, list of light transport aircraft) of short haul regional feeder airliner type aircraft that carry 19 or fewer passenger seats are called commuter aircraft, commuterliners, feederliners, and air taxis, depending on their size, engines, how they are marketed, region of the world, and seating configurations. The Beechcraft 1900, for example, has only 19 seats. Depending on local and national regulations, a commuter aircraft may not qualify as an airliner and may not be subject to the regulations applied to larger aircraft. Members of this class of aircraft normally lack such amenities as lavatories and galleys and typically do not carry a flight attendant as an aircrew member.
Other aircraft that may fall into this category are the Fairchild Metro, Jetstream 31, and Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante. The Cessna Caravan and Pilatus PC-12, are single-engine turboprops, sometimes used as a small airliner, although many countries stipulate a minimum requirement of two engines for aircraft to be used as airliners.
Until the beginning of the Jet Age, piston engines were common on propliners like the Douglas DC-3. Nearly all modern airliners are now powered by turbine engines, either turbofans or turboprops. Gas turbine engines operate efficiently at much higher altitudes, are more reliable than piston engines, and produce less vibration and noise. Prior to the Jet Age, it was common for the same or very similar engines to be used in civilian airliners as in military aircraft. In recent years, divergence has occurred so that it is now unusual for the same engine to be used on a military type as a civilian type. Usually military aircraft which share engine technology with airliners are transports or tanker types.
Some variants of airliners have been developed for carrying freight or for luxury corporate use. Many airliners have also been modified for government use as VIP transports and for military functions such as airborne tankers (for example, the Vickers VC10, Lockheed L1011, Boeing 707), air ambulance (USAF/USN McDonnell Douglas DC-9), reconnaissance (Embraer ERJ 145, Saab 340, Boeing 737), as well as for troop-carrying roles.
Modern airliners are usually low-wing designs with engines mounted in underwing pods (usually two of them). For airliners, multi-engine design is mandated by some national regulations so that aircraft can continue to climb even in the worst case of power loss in one engine right after take-off. Another regulatory demand is that aircraft are able to fly a minimum specified amount of time after one engine fails in flight (see ETOPS).
Mounting the engines underneath and to the fore of the wing moves weight from the fuselage to the wings, imposing less bending moment on them and allowing for a lighter wing structure. After this feature proved successful in military jets, Boeing introduced it to its 707 airliner design and it has been increasingly adopted since.
Mounting the engines in underwing pods also makes physical access for maintenance quicker and easier compared to tail-mounted engines.
Additionally, low wing design helps keep the engine nacelles and refueling valves closer to the ground to simplify access and the wing's surface acts as a barrier to prevent the engines' noise from reaching the fuselage in-flight.
In a few special cases, where engine proximity to ground is detrimental (e.g. rural airfields with risk of foreign object damage or dirt), airliners will feature tail-mounted engines (e.g. MD-80 or Tu-334) or high-wing designs with underhung nacelles (e.g. BAe 146). These planes become rarer as almost all newly built airliners have underwing nacelles. Tail-engined designs are mostly used by business jet manufacturers.
- Airbus S.A.S. (formerly a multinational conglomeration of the largest European aerospace companies of France, Germany, Spain and the UK)
- Czech Republic
- Fokker (now defunct)
- Russian companies (formerly Soviet-controlled)
- Saab (no longer manufactures civilian aircraft)
- Ukraine (formerly Soviet-controlled)
- United Kingdom
- North America
The international market for middle-sized and large-sized airliners is now divided between Airbus and Boeing, although Russian/former Soviet manufacturers still sell significant numbers of airliners to their traditional markets. Smaller-sized aircraft manufacturers include, in addition to these two, ATR, Embraer and Bombardier.
- Boeing 247 – the first design to incorporate modern features such as all-metal construction and retractable landing gear
- Douglas DC-3 – still in service more than 70 years after its debut, it is generally regarded as one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made
- Boeing 307 - One of the first airliners to be pressurized and have the ability to fly into the stratosphere
- Douglas DC-6 – originally developed as a military transport, it was reworked for passenger service after World War II, a role it continues to perform today
- Boeing 377- Developed soon after World War 2, from the C-97 Stratofreighter, this was a luxurious double-decker airliner with a pressurized cabin.
- Vickers Viscount – the first turboprop airliner to enter service
- Lockheed Constellation – a distinctive triple-tailed piston-engined airliner of the 1950s, it was one of the last large propeller-driven airliners
- De Havilland Comet – the world's first jetliner to reach mass production, its reputation was marred by a series of crashes due to structural failure
- Antonov An-2- Best selling transport airliner up to the point it was built.
- Tupolev Tu-104 – the first turbojet airliner to provide sustained service, and the sole jetliner operating in the world between 1956 and 1958
- Boeing 707 – the first United States-built jetliner to enter production
- Douglas DC-8 – launched after the Boeing 707, it nevertheless established Douglas in the airliner market, and continues to serve as a cargo aircraft to this day
- Tupolev Tu-154 - standard medium-range airliner for Russia (and others), carried half of all Soviet traffic since 1972 with 1015 built and the fastest airliner in service
- Ilyushin Il-62 - standard long-range airliner for Russia (and others) for three decades, first flight 1963 and still in service
- Douglas DC-9 – production of it and successive variants nearly reached 2,500
- Boeing 737 – the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation
- Tupolev Tu-144 – the first supersonic transport aircraft constructed in Soviet Union
- Concorde – an Anglo-French supersonic transport, it remains the only supersonic aircraft to sustain a regular passenger service
- Boeing 747 "jumbo jet" – an iconic aircraft, it was the world's largest airliner between 1969 and 2005
- McDonnell Douglas DC-10 – a trijet competitor to the widebody 747
- Airbus A300 – the world's first twinjet widebody
- Airbus A320 – pioneered the use of fly-by-wire technology
- Boeing 777 – the first airliner designed entirely by computer, without physical mockups
- Airbus A380 "superjumbo" – the world's largest airliner from 2005 onwards
- Boeing 787 Dreamliner - the world's first jet airliner to make use of composite materials for most of its construction
As airliners are very expensive, most are leased out for times typically from 20 to 40 years. Very few go back into service after a long lease is up because evolving aerospace technology leaves older airliners unable to compete against newer machines that can be operated at a lower cost. Many end-of-service airliners end up in the Mojave Desert, at the Mojave Air and Space Port (also known as "The Boneyard"). From this, the term "Mojave" has come to refer to the temporary storage of aircraft, e.g. during decreased demand for air travel and between short-term leases. Another airliner retirement location is Marana, Arizona.
While almost every airliner will be reduced to scrap (the exceptions end up as museum pieces or flown by collector groups) they may pass through many owners before they are retired. A well-maintained airliner can operate safely for decades, depending on how often it is flown, its operating environment, and whether damage and wear and tear is properly repaired.
What may end an airliner's working life is a lack of spare parts, as the original manufacturer and third manufacturers may no longer provide or support them. Corrosion and metal fatigue are other issues that become more expensive to deal with as time goes on. Eventually, these factors and advances in aircraft technology lead to older airliners becoming too expensive or inefficient to operate.
To protect the environment, the Airbus company has set up a centre in France to decommission and recycle older aircraft. More than 200 airliners will finish active life each year, and will be dismantled and recycled under the newly established PAMELA Project.
Cabin configurations and features
An airliner will usually have several classes of seating: first class, business class, and/or economy class (which may be referred to as coach class or tourist class, and sometimes has a separate "premium" economy section with more legroom and amenities). The seats in more expensive classes are wider, more comfortable, and have more amenities such as "lie flat" seats for more comfortable sleeping on long flights. Generally, the more expensive the class, the better the beverage and meal service.
Domestic flights generally have a two-class configuration, usually first or business class and coach class, although many airlines instead offer all-economy seating. International flights generally have either a two-class configuration or a three-class configuration, depending on the airline, route and aircraft type. Many airliners offer movies or audio/video on demand (this is standard in first and business class on many international flights and may be available on economy). Cabins of any class are provided with lavatory facilities.
The types of seats that are provided and how much legroom is given to each passenger are decisions made by the individual airlines, not the aircraft manufacturers. Seats are mounted in "tracks" on the floor of the cabin and can be moved back and forth by the maintenance staff or removed altogether. Naturally the airline tries to maximize the number of seats available in every aircraft to carry the largest possible (and therefore most profitable) number of passengers.
Passengers seated in an exit row (the row of seats adjacent to an emergency exit) usually have substantially more legroom than those seated in the remainder of the cabin, while the seats directly in front of the exit row may have less legroom and may not even recline (for evacuation safety reasons). However, passengers seated in an exit row may be required to assist cabin crew during an emergency evacuation of the aircraft opening the emergency exit and assisting fellow passengers to the exit. As a precaution, many airlines prohibit young people under the age of 15 from being seated in the exit row .
The seats are designed to withstand strong forces so as not to break or come loose from their floor tracks during turbulence or accidents. The backs of seats are often equipped with a fold-down tray for eating, writing, or as a place to set up a portable computer, or a music or video player. Seats without another row of seats in front of them have a tray that is either folded into the armrest or that clips into brackets on the underside of the armrests. However, seats in premium cabins generally have trays in the armrests or clip-on trays, regardless of whether there is another row of seats in front of them. Seatbacks now often feature small color LCD screens for videos, television and video games. Controls for this display as well as an outlet to plug in audio headsets are normally found in the armrest of each seat.
The overhead bins are used for stowing carry-on baggage and other items. While the airliner manufacturer will normally supply a standard product, airlines may choose to have bins of differing size, shape, or color installed. Over time, these bins evolved out of what were originally overhead shelves used for little more than coat and briefcase storage. As concerns about falling debris during turbulence or in accidents increased, enclosed bins became the norm. Bins have increased in size in order to accommodate the larger carry-on baggage passengers may bring onto the aircraft. New bin designs may include a handrail, useful when moving through the cabin.
Passenger service units
Above the passenger seats are Passenger Service Units (PSU). These typically contain reading lights, air vents, and a flight attendant call light. On most narrowbody aircraft (and some Airbus A300s and A310s), the flight attendant call button and the buttons to control the reading lights are located directly on the PSU, while on most widebody aircraft, the flight attendant call button and the reading light control buttons are usually part of the in-flight entertainment system. The units frequently have small "Fasten Seat Belt" and "No Smoking" illuminated signage and may also contain a speaker for the cabin public address system.
The PSU will also normally contain the drop-down oxygen masks which are activated if there is a sudden drop in cabin pressure. These are supplied with oxygen by means of a chemical oxygen generator. By using a chemical reaction rather than a connection to an oxygen tank, these devices supply breathing oxygen for long enough for the airliner to descend to thicker, more breathable air. Oxygen generators do generate considerable heat in the process. Because of this, the oxygen generators are thermally shielded and are only allowed in commercial airliners when properly installed – they are not permitted to be loaded as freight on passenger-carrying flights. ValuJet Flight 592 crashed on May 11, 1996 as a result of improperly loaded chemical oxygen generators.
Airliners developed since the 1940s have had pressurized cabins (or more accurately, pressurized hulls including baggage holds) to enable them to carry passengers safely at high altitudes where low oxygen levels and air pressure would otherwise cause sickness or death. High altitude flight enabled airliners to fly above most weather systems that cause turbulent or dangerous flying conditions, and also to fly faster and further as there is less drag due to the lower air density. Pressurisation is applied using compressed air, in most cases bled from the engines, and is managed by a environmental control system which draws in clean air, and vents stale air out through a valve.
Pressurization presents design and construction challenges to maintain the structural integrity and sealing of the cabin and hull and to prevent rapid decompression. Some of the consequences include small round windows, doors that open inwards and are larger than the door hole, and an emergency oxygen system.
To maintain a pressure in the cabin equivalent to an altitude close to sea level would, at a cruising altitude around 10,000 m (33,000 feet), create a pressure difference between inside the aircraft and outside the aircraft that would require greater hull strength and weight. Most people do not suffer ill effects up to an altitude of 1800–2500 m (6000–8000 feet), and maintaining cabin pressure at this equivalent altitude significantly reduces the pressure difference and therefore the required hull strength and weight. A side effect is that passengers experience some discomfort as the cabin pressure changes during ascent and descent to the majority of airports, which are at low altitudes.
Cabin climate control
The air bled from the engines is hot and requires cooling by air conditioning units. It is also extremely dry at cruising altitude, and this causes sore eyes, dry skin and mucosa on long flights. Although humidification technology could raise its relative humidity to comfortable middle levels, this is not done since humidity promotes corrosion to the inside of the hull and risks condensation which could short electrical systems, so for safety reasons it is deliberately kept to a low value, around 10%.
Airliners must have space on board to store baggage that will not safely fit in the passenger cabin.
Designed to hold baggage as well as freight, these compartments are called "cargo bins", "holds", or occasionally "pits". Occasionally baggage holds may be referred to as cargo decks on the largest of aircraft. These compartments can be accessed through doors on the outside of the aircraft. Despite what is seen in many movies, access doors between passenger cabins and baggage holds are rare in modern airliners.
Depending on the aircraft, baggage holds are normally inside the hull and are therefore pressurized just like the passenger cabin although they may not be heated. While lighting is normally installed for use by the loading crew, typically the compartment is unlit when the door is closed.
Baggage holds on modern airliners are equipped with fire detection equipment and larger aircraft have automated or remotely activated fire-fighting devices installed.
Most "narrow-body" airliners with more than 100 seats have space below the cabin floor, while smaller aircraft often have a special compartment separate from the passenger area but on the same level.
Baggage is normally stacked within the bin by hand, sorted by destination category. Netting that fits across the width of the bin is secured to limit movement of the bags. Airliners often carry items of freight and mail. These may be loaded separately from the baggage or mixed in if they are bound for the same destination. For securing bulky items "hold down" rings are provided to tie items into place.
"Wide-body" airliners frequently have a compartment like the ones described above, typically called a "bulk bin". It is normally used for late arriving luggage or bags which may have been checked at the gate.
However, most baggage and loose freight items are loaded into containers called Unit Load Devices (ULDs), often referred to as "cans". ULDs come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but the most common model is the LD3. This particular container has approximately the same height as the cargo compartment and fits across half of its width.
ULDs are loaded with baggage and are transported to the aircraft on dolly carts and loaded into the baggage hold by a loader designed for the task. By means of belts and rollers an operator can maneuver the ULD from the dolly cart, up to the aircraft baggage hold door, and into the aircraft. Inside the hold, the floor is also equipped with drive wheels and rollers that an operator inside can use to move the ULD properly into place. Locks in the floor are used to hold the ULD in place during flight.
For consolidated freight loads, like a pallet of boxes or an item too oddly shaped to fit into a container, flat metal pallets that resemble large baking sheets that are compatible with the loading equipment are used.
- Regional jets
- List of civil aircraft
- List of regional airliners
- List of airliners by Maximum Takeoff Weight
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- Airbus (EADS)
- International Lease Finance Corporation
- Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) website
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