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An aircraft is a machine that is able to fly by gaining support from the air. It is able to do so by countering the force of gravity by either using:

  • Static lift
  • Dynamic lift
  • Downward thrust from jet engines

The human activity that environs the aircraft is called aviation.

The using and development of airplanes goes back to many centuries. Some of the greatest technical advances in airplanes occurred during each of the two World Wars.

The following are some of the manufacturers of aircraft:

  • Cessna
  • Piper
  • Gulfstream
  • Hawker
  • Dassault
  • Diamond
  • Cirrus
  • Mooney
  • Learjet
  • Commander

The following are some of the largest civilian aircraft in the world:

  • Antonov An-225 Mriya – This airplane is in general considered to be the largest airplane in the world. The aircraft is also the world’s heaviest aircraft ever with a maximum take-off weight that is greater than 640 ton. It is also considered to be the largest heavier-than-air aircraft that has ever entered into the operational service. Its first flight occurred in 1988.
  • Airbus A380-800 – This airplane is considered to be the largest passenger airplane that has ever been made. Its first flight occurred in 2005.

The following are some of the airlines that made use of Airbus A380-800:

  • Singapore Airlines
  • Emirates Airlines
  • Air France
  • British Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • Lufthansa
  • Korean Air
  • Qantas Airways
  • Etihad Airways
  • Airbus A340-600 – This airplane has been in production since 2001 and was considered to be the longest commercial airline with a length of 75.30m. This was surpassed by the Airbus A380-800.
  • Boeing 747 – This was the highest capacity passenger airplane until it was surpassed by the Airbus A380.

The current fleet for South Africa’s national flag carrier airline (SAA) are as follows:

  • Airbus A319
  • Airbus A320
  • Airbus A340
  • Boeing 747

The fleet of SAA consists of over 50 airplanes.

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