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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Aeroplane" redirects here. For other uses, see Airplane (disambiguation) and Aeroplane

North American P-51 Mustang, a World War II fighter

The first flight of an airplane, the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903

An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a powered, fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled

forward by thrust from a jet engine or propeller. Airplanes come in a variety of sizes, shapes,
and wing configurations. The broad spectrum of uses for airplanes
includes recreation, transportation of goods and people, military, and research. Commercial
aviation is a massive industry involving the flying of tens of thousands of passengers daily
on airliners. Most airplanes are flown by a pilot on board the aircraft, but some are designed to
be remotely or computer-controlled.
The Wright brothers invented and flew the first airplane in 1903, recognized as "the first sustained
and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight". [1] They built on the works of George Cayley dating
from 1799, when he set forth the concept of the modern airplane (and later built and flew models and
successful passenger-carrying gliders).[2] Between 1867 and 1896, the German pioneer of human
aviation Otto Lilienthal also studied heavier-than-air flight. Following its limited use in World War I,
aircraft technology continued to develop. Airplanes had a presence in all the major battles of World
War II. The first jet aircraft was the German Heinkel He 178 in 1939. The first jet airliner, the de
Havilland Comet, was introduced in 1952. The Boeing 707, the first widely successful commercial
jet, was in commercial service for more than 50 years, from 1958 to at least 2013.

1Etymology and usage



2.2Early powered flights

2.3Development of jet aircraft


3.1Propeller engines

3.2Jet engines

3.3Electric engines

3.4Rocket engines

3.5Ramjet and scramjet engines

4Design and manufacture




5.2.1Wing structure

5.2.2Wing configuration


5.4Wings vs. bodies

5.4.1Flying wing

5.4.2Blended wing body

5.4.3Lifting body

5.5Empennage and foreplane

5.6Controls and instruments


7See also



10External links

Etymology and usage

First attested in English in the late 19th century (prior to the first sustained powered flight), the
word airplane, like aeroplane, derives from the French aroplane, which comes from the Greek
(ar), "air"[3] and either Latin planus, "level",[4] or Greek (planos), "wandering".[5][6] "Aroplane"
originally referred just to the wing, as it is a plane moving through the air.[7] In an example
of synecdoche, the word for the wing came to refer to the entire aircraft.
In the United States and Canada, the term "airplane" is used for powered fixed-wing aircraft. In
the United Kingdom and most of the Commonwealth, the term "aeroplane" is usually applied to
these aircraft.

Main articles: Aviation history and First flying machine

Le Bris and his glider, Albatros II, photographed by Nadar, 1868

Otto Lilienthal in mid-flight, c. 1895

Many stories from antiquity involve flight, such as the Greek legend of Icarus and Daedalus, and
the Vimana in ancient Indian epics. Around 400 BC in Greece, Archytas was reputed to have
designed and built the first artificial, self-propelled flying device, a bird-shaped model propelled by a

jet of what was probably steam, said to have flown some 200 m (660 ft).[8][9] This machine may have
been suspended for its flight.[10][11]
Some of the earliest recorded attempts with gliders were those by the 9th-century poet Abbas ibn
Firnas and the 11th-century monk Eilmer of Malmesbury; both experiments injured their pilots.
Leonardo da Vinci researched the wing design of birds and designed a man-powered aircraft in
his Codex on the Flight of Birds (1502).
In 1799, George Cayley set forth the concept of the modern airplane as a fixed-wing flying machine
with separate systems for lift, propulsion, and control.[13][14] Cayley was building and flying models of
fixed-wing aircraft as early as 1803, and he built a successful passenger-carrying glider in 1853.[2] In
1856, Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris made the first powered flight, by having his glider "L'Albatros
artificiel" pulled by a horse on a beach.[citation needed] Then Alexander F. Mozhaisky also made some
innovative designs. In 1883, the American John J. Montgomery made a controlled flight in a glider.
Other aviators who made similar flights at that time were Otto Lilienthal, Percy Pilcher, and Octave
Sir Hiram Maxim built a craft that weighed 3.5 tons, with a 110-foot (34 meter) wingspan that was
powered by two 360-horsepower (270 kW) steam engines driving two propellers. In 1894, his
machine was tested with overhead rails to prevent it from rising. The test showed that it had enough
lift to take off. The craft was uncontrollable, which Maxim, it is presumed, realized, because he
subsequently abandoned work on it.[16]
In the 1890s, Lawrence Hargrave conducted research on wing structures and developed a box
kite that lifted the weight of a man. His box kite designs were widely adopted. Although he also
developed a type of rotary aircraft engine, he did not create and fly a powered fixed-wing aircraft. [17]
Between 1867 and 1896 the German pioneer of human aviation Otto Lilienthal developed heavierthan-air flight. He was the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful gliding flights.

Early powered flights

Santos-Dumont 14-bis, between 1906 and 1907

The Wright brothers flights in 1903 are recognized by the Fdration Aronautique
Internationale (FAI), the standard setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics, as "the first
sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight".[1] By 1905, the Wright Flyer III was capable
of fully controllable, stable flight for substantial periods. The Wright brothers credited Otto Lilienthal
as a major inspiration for their decision to pursue manned flight.
In 1906, Alberto Santos-Dumont made what was claimed to be the first airplane flight unassisted
by catapult[18] and set the first world record recognized by the Aro-Club de France by flying 220
meters (720 ft) in less than 22 seconds.[19] This flight was also certified by the FAI.[20][21]
An early aircraft design that brought together the modern monoplane tractor configuration was
the Blriot VIII design of 1908. It had movable tail surfaces controlling both yaw and pitch, a form of
roll control supplied either by wing warping or by ailerons and controlled by its pilot with

a joystick and rudder bar. It was an important predecessor of his later Blriot XIChannel-crossing
aircraft of the summer of 1909.[22]
In Romania the aircraft, A. Vlaicu nr. 1, was finished in 1909, and was test flown on June 17, 1910.
From the first flight the airplane had no need of changes. The plane was made from a
single aluminum spar 10 m (33 ft) long which supported the entire aircraft, making it very easy to fly.
Ten planes were made for the Romanian Air Force, being the second-ever military air force in the
World War I served as a testbed for the use of the airplane as a weapon. Airplanes demonstrated
their potential as mobile observation platforms, then proved themselves to be machines of war
capable of causing casualties to the enemy. The earliest known aerial victory with a synchronized
machine gun-armed fighter aircraft occurred in 1915, by German Luftstreitkrfte Leutnant Kurt
Wintgens. Fighter aces appeared; the greatest (by number of Aerial Combat victories) was Manfred
von Richthofen.
Following WWI, aircraft technology continued to develop. Alcock and Brown crossed the Atlantic
non-stop for the first time in 1919. The first international commercial flights took place between the
United States and Canada in 1919.[citation needed]
Airplanes had a presence in all the major battles of World War II. They were an essential component
of the military strategies of the period, such as the German Blitzkrieg, The Battle of Britain, and the
American and Japanese aircraft carrier campaigns of the Pacific War.

Development of jet aircraft

The first 'operational' jet aircraft was the German Heinkel He 178, which was tested in 1939. In 1943,
the Messerschmitt Me 262, the first 'operational' jet fighter aircraft, went into service in the
German Luftwaffe. In October 1947, the Bell X-1 was the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound.

The first jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, was introduced in 1952. The Boeing 707, the first widely
successful commercial jet, was in commercial service for more than 50 years, from 1958 to 2010.
The Boeing 747 was the world's biggest passenger aircraft from 1970 until it was surpassed by
the Airbus A380 in 2005.

See also: Powered aircraft and Aircraft engine

Propeller engines
Main article: Propeller (aeronautics)

An Antonov An-2 biplane

Smaller and older propeller planes make use of reciprocating engines (or piston engines) to turn
a propeller to create thrust. The amount of thrust a propeller creates is determined by its disk area the area in which the blades rotate. If the area is too small, efficiency is poor, and if the area is large,

the propeller must rotate at a very low speed to avoid going supersonic and creating a lot of noise,
and not much thrust. Because of this limitation, propellers are favored for planes which travel at
below mach .5, while jets are a better choice above that speed. Propeller engines may be quieter
than jet engines (though not always) and may cost less to purchase or maintain and so remain
common on light general aviation aircraft such as the Cessna 172. Larger modern propeller planes
such as the Dash 8 use a jet engine to turn the propeller, primarily because an equivalent piston
engine in power output would be much larger and more compl