Types of Aircraft Used Today

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There are many different types of aircraft in use today.
There are many different types of aircraft in use today. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Take a trip to a local airport and drive around the grounds. It is highly likely you will see a large variety of aircraft along the tarmac and in the hangars. It becomes challenging to try and decipher each particular make, model, brand and style of aircraft. There are a few basic categories or aircraft in use today. View the aircraft classifications in much the same way as the animal kingdom's taxonomic breakdowns.

Commercial Jets

Any major airport sees its share of large commercial jets fly in and out. Among these jets are models produced by Boeing, an American company, and Airbus, a French company. Some of the more commonly seen jets include the Boeing 707, 727, 757 and the big 747. Airbus jets include the a330; a319, a smaller jet much akin to the 707; a321; and the largest commercial jet in operation, the a380.

Multi-Engine

Look around the airport and you are sure to see small aircraft with two propellers, either mounted on the wings, or on the front or back of the fuselage. These are dual-engine or multi-engine aircraft. Examples of multi-engine aircraft in use today include the Cessna 340, Beech Baron, Cessna 421 and Piper Seneca. You may notice wings on top of the airplane or under the fuselage, with the props and engines. Planes with wings on the top are referred to as "high-wings" and those with them below the fuselage are called "low-wings."

Single Engine

Single-engine aircraft are the most common in use by private aircraft owners and pilots. Among these are the very popular Cessna 172, one of the more common training aircraft at flight schools today. Piper Arrows, CubCrafter Cubs, Super Decathlons and Citabrias are in use today and have single piston driven engines. The range of single-engine planes to day is vast, including a new category approved by the FAA called the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). These are two seaters and are driven by a single engine. Examples include the Remos and the Cessna Skycatcher.

Helicopters

As you make your way around the airport you are bound to see the helipad. Helicopters are known in the aviation world as rotor aircraft. These sporty little birds operate under the same principle of lift as the fixed wing cousins, but use a rotor on the top of the cabin and rear of the tail to power the craft. Helicopters in use today include the Hughes 500, the helicopter used in the old TV show "Magnum P.I." Other examples are the Bell Jet Ranger and the Aerospatiale A-Stars.

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