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An airliner is a type of aircraft for transporting passengers and air cargo. Such aircraft are most often operated by airlines. Although the definition of an airliner can vary from country to country, an airliner is typically defined as an airplane intended for carrying multiple passengers or cargo in commercial service. The largest of them are wide-body jets which are also called twin-aisle because they generally have two separate aisles running from the front to the back of the passenger cabin. These are usually used for long-haul flights between airline hubs and major cities. A smaller, more common class of airliners is the narrow-body or single-aisle. These are generally used for short to medium-distance flights with fewer passengers than their wide-body counterparts.


Regional airliners 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. These regional routes then form the spokes of a hub-and-spoke air transport model.

The lightest (light aircraft, list of light transport aircraft)]) short-haul regional feeder airliner type aircraft that carry a small number of passengers 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.

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, performed in the Wright Flyer during 1903,[1] was just 11 years before what is often defined as the world's first airliner.[2] By the 1960s, airliners had expanded capabilities, making a significant impact on global society, economics, and politics.[3]

During 1913, Igor Sikorsky developed the first large multi-engine airplane, the Russky Vityaz.[4][5] This aircraft was subsequently refined into the more practical Ilya Muromets, being furnished with dual controls for a pilot and copilot and a comfortable cabin with a lavatory, cabin heating and lighting.[6]This large four-engine biplane was further adapted into an early bomber aircraft, preceding subsequent transport and bomber aircraft.[6]It first flew on 10 December 1913 and took off for its first demonstration flight with 16 passengers aboard on 25 February 1914.However, it was never used as a commercial airliner due to the onset of the First World War which led to military applications being prioritised.[7][8]

In 1919, shortly after the end of the First World War, large numbers of ex-military aircraft flooded the market. One such aircraft was the French Farman F.60 Goliath, which had originally been designed as a long-range heavy bomber; a number were converted for commercial use into passenger airliners starting in 1919, being able to accommodate a maximum of 14 seated passengers. and around 60 were built. Initially, several publicity flights were made, including one on 8 February 1919, when the Goliath flew 12 passengers from Toussus-le-Noble to RAF Kenley, near Croydon, despite having no permission from the British authorities to land. Dozens of early airlines subsequently procured the type.[9] One high-profile flight, made on 11 August 1919, involved an F.60 flying eight passengers and a ton of supplies from Paris via Casablanca and Mogador to Koufa, 180 km (110 mi) north of Saint-Louis, Senegal, flying more than 4,500 km (2,800 mi).[10]

Another important airliner built in 1919 was the Airco DH.16; a redesigned Airco DH.9A with a wider fuselage to accommodate an enclosed cabin seating four passengers, plus pilot in an open cockpit. In March 1919, the prototype first flew at Hendon Aerodrome. Nine aircraft were built, all but one being delivered to the nascent airline, Aircraft Transport and Travel, which used the first aircraft for pleasure flying, and on 25 August 1919, it inaugurated the first scheduled international airline service from London to Paris.[11] One aircraft was sold to the River Plate Aviation Company in Argentina, to operate a cross-river service between Buenos Aires and Montevideo.[11]Meanwhile, the competing Vickers converted its successful First World War era bomber, the Vickers Vimy, into a civilian version, the Vimy Commercial. It was redesigned with a larger-diameter fuselage (largely of spruce plywood), and first flew from the Joyce Green airfield in Kent on 13 April 1919.[12][13]

In France, the Bleriot-SPAD S.33 was introduced during the early 1920s.[20] It was commercially successful, initially serving the Paris-London route, and later on continental routes. The enclosed cabin could carry four passengers with an extra seat in the cockpit. It was further developed into the Blériot-SPAD S.46. Throughout the 1920s, companies in Britain and France were at the forefront of the civil airliner industry.[21]

By 1921, the capacity of airliners needed to be increased to achieve more favourable economics. The English company de Havilland, built the 10-passenger DH.29 monoplane,[22] while starting work on the design of the DH.32, an eight-seater biplane with a more economical but less powerful Rolls-Royce Eagle engine.[23] For more capacity, DH.32 development was replaced by the DH.34 biplane, accommodating 10 passengers.[24] A commercially successful aircraft, Daimler Airway ordered a batch of nine.[22]

By the 1930s, the airliner industry had matured and large consolidated national airlines were established with regular international services that spanned the globe, including Imperial Airways in Britain, Lufthansa in Germany, KLM in the Netherlands, and United Airlines in America. Multi-engined aircraft were now capable of transporting dozens of passengers in comfort.[29]

During the 1930s, the British de Havilland Dragon emerged as a short-haul, low-capacity airliner. Its relatively simple design could carry six passengers, each with 45 lb (20 kg) of luggage, on the London-Paris route on a fuel consumption of 13 gal (49 L) per hour.[30] The DH.84 Dragon entered worldwide service. During early August 1934, one performed the first non-stop flight between the Canadian mainland and Britain in 30 hours 55 minutes, although the intended destination had originally been Baghdad in Iraq.[31][32] British production of the Dragon ended in favour of the de Havilland Dragon Rapide, a faster and more comfortable successor.[33]

By November 1934, series production of the Dragon Rapide had commenced.[34] De Havilland invested into advanced features including elongated rear windows, cabin heating, thickened wing tips, and a strengthened airframe for a higher gross weight of 5,500 lb (2,500 kg).[35] Later aircraft were amongst the first airliners to be fitted with flaps for improved landing performance, along with downwards-facing recognition light and metal propellers, which were often retrofitted to older aircraft.[36] It was also used in military roles;[34] civil Dragon Rapides were impressed into military service during the Second World War.[37]

By the 1960s, the UK had lost the airliner market to the US due to the Comet disaster and a smaller domestic market, not regained by later designs like the BAC 1-11, Vickers VC10, and Hawker Siddeley Trident. The STAC committee was formed to consider supersonic designs and worked with Bristol to create the Bristol 223, a 100-passenger transatlantic airliner. The effort was later merged with similar efforts in France to create the Concorde supersonic airliner to share the cost.[63][64]

The first batch of the Douglas DC-4s went to the U.S. Army and Air Forces,[when?] and was named the C-54 Skymaster. Some ex-military DC-6s were later converted into airliners, with both passenger and cargo versions flooding the market shortly after the war's end. Douglas also developed a pressurized version of the DC-4, which it designated the Douglas DC-6. Rival company Lockheed produced the Constellation, a triple-tailed aircraft with a wider fuselage than the DC-4.

Convair produced the Convair 240, a 40-person pressurized airplane; 566 examples flew. Convair later developed the Convair 340, which was slightly larger and could accommodate between 44 and 52 passengers, of which 311 were produced. The firm also commenced work on the Convair 37, a relatively large double-deck airliner that would have served transcontinental routes; however, the project was abandoned due to a lack of customer demand and its high development costs.[65]

In 1936, the French Air Ministry requested transatlantic flying boats that could hold at least 40 passengers, leading to three Latécoère 631s introduced by Air France in July 1947.[66] However, two crashed and the third was removed from service over safety concerns. The SNCASE Languedoc was the first French post-war airliner.[67] Accommodating up to 44 seats, 40 aircraft were completed for Air France between October 1945 and April 1948.[68][63] Air France withdrew the last Languedoc from its domestic routes in 1954, being replaced by later designs.[67] First flying in February 1949, the four-engined Breguet Deux-Ponts was a double-decker transport for passengers and cargo.[69] Air France used it on its busiest routes, including from Paris to the Mediterranean area and to London.[69]

The Sud-Aviation Caravelle was developed during the late 1950s as the first short range jet airliner. The nose and cockpit layout were licensed from the de Havilland Comet, along with some fuselage elements.[70] Entering service in mid 1959, 172 Caravelles had been sold within four years and six versions were in production by 1963.[71] Sud Aviation then focused its design team on a Caravelle successor.[70]

The Super-Caravelle was a supersonic transport project of similar size and range to the Caravelle. It was merged with the similar Bristol Aeroplane Company project into the Anglo-French Concorde.[70] The Concorde entered service in January 1967 as the second and last commercial supersonic transport,[72][73] after large overruns and delays, costing 1.3 billion.[74] All subsequent French airliner efforts were part of the Airbus pan-European initiative. 041b061a72

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