Aircraft vs. Airplane


Most people, ourselves included, tend to use the terms airplane and aircraft synonymously. If you want to be technically correct, however, there is a distinction. The dictionary defines an aircraft as any craft that flies through the air, whether it be an airplane, helicopter, missile, glider, balloon, blimp, or any other vehicle that uses the air to generate lift for flight.

Aircraft, airplane, or both?
Aircraft, airplane, or both?

The term airplane, on the other hand, is more specific and refers only to a powered vehicle that relies on fixed wings to generate lift. A Boeing 747 commercial airliner is both an airplane and an aircraft while the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter is an aircraft but not an airplane.
- answer by Joe Yoon, 30 July 2006


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