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Aircraft vs. Aeroplane: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 15, 2023
An aircraft is any vehicle capable of flight, including airplanes, helicopters, and drones, whereas an aeroplane (or airplane) specifically refers to a fixed-wing aircraft powered by propellers or jet engines.

Key Differences

Aircraft is a broader term encompassing all types of vehicles that can fly, including aeroplanes, helicopters, blimps, and drones. However, an aeroplane specifically refers to a type of aircraft with fixed wings and is powered by propellers or jet engines.
Aeroplanes are aircraft, while not all aircraft are aeroplanes. Aeroplanes are designed for specific purposes like transportation, recreation, or military use, with fixed wings providing lift. Other types of aircraft, such as helicopters, have rotary wings and different flight capabilities.
The term aircraft is used in contexts where the type of flying vehicle is not specified or when referring to all types of flying machines. Aeroplane is used when referring specifically to fixed-wing, powered aircraft.
The term aeroplane is more common in British English, while airplane is the preferred term in American English. Both are specific types of aircraft, which is a universally understood term in the aviation industry.
The development of aircraft encompasses the evolution of various types of flying vehicles, including aeroplanes. The invention and advancement of the aeroplane have been a significant part of the broader history of aircraft.

Comparison Chart


Any flying vehicle
A fixed-wing flying vehicle powered by engines

Types Included

Aeroplanes, helicopters, drones, etc
Only fixed-wing types

Design Characteristics

Varies widely
Fixed wings, often with propellers or jet engines

Usage Context

General, all-encompassing term
Specific to fixed-wing aircraft

Historical Scope

Includes the evolution of all flying vehicles
Focused on the development of fixed-wing aircraft

Aircraft and Aeroplane Definitions


An aircraft is any machine capable of flight, including airplanes, helicopters, and gliders.
The military base houses various types of aircraft, from fighters to transport planes.


A type of aircraft designed for air travel and transportation, using jet or propeller engines.
The commercial aeroplane, full of passengers, took off on time for its international flight.


Any machine that can navigate through the air, either lighter or heavier than air.
Hot air balloons are a form of lighter-than-air aircraft used for leisurely flights.


A fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust from a jet engine or propeller.
The pilot expertly navigated the aeroplane through turbulent weather.


A flying machine, encompassing a wide range of vehicles from simple gliders to complex jetliners.
The airport is a bustling hub for diverse aircraft, including commercial jets and private planes.


A machine capable of atmospheric flight due to the lift generated by its fixed wings.
The Wright brothers achieved the first powered flight in an aeroplane in 1903.


A mode of transportation designed to operate in the atmosphere.
The new aircraft model boasts advanced technology for improved fuel efficiency and safety.


An aeroplane is a powered flying vehicle with fixed wings and a weight heavier than air.
The aeroplane soared gracefully above the clouds, heading towards its destination.


A vehicle designed for air travel, with or without its own power source.
Drones have become a popular type of unmanned aircraft for both recreational and commercial use.


A vehicle designed to travel through the air, with wings and power sources like engines.
The aeroplane, with its impressive wingspan, glided down the runway before ascending.


A machine or device, such as an airplane, helicopter, glider, dirigible, or drone, capable of atmospheric flight.


Variant of airplane.


A vehicle capable of atmospheric flight due to interaction with the air, such as buoyancy or lift


A powered heavier-than-air aircraft with fixed wings.


Any vehicle, such as an airplane, helicopter, balloon, etc., for floating in, or flying through, the air.


A vehicle that can fly


Do aeroplanes always have engines?

Yes, aeroplanes are characterized by their powered flight.

What defines an aircraft?

An aircraft is any vehicle capable of atmospheric flight.

Are all aircraft powered?

No, some, like gliders, are unpowered.

Are aeroplanes used for military purposes?

Yes, many aeroplanes are designed for military use.

What specifically is an aeroplane?

An aeroplane is a fixed-wing aircraft powered by engines.

Can a helicopter be called an aeroplane?

No, a helicopter is an aircraft but not an aeroplane.

Do all aircraft have wings?

Most do, but some, like helicopters, have rotors instead.

Is aeroplane design uniform?

No, designs vary based on purpose and technology.

Do aeroplanes have different size categories?

Yes, from small private planes to large jumbo jets.

Is the term "aircraft" used in specific contexts?

It's used generally for all types of flying vehicles.

Do aeroplanes have a maximum altitude?

Yes, depending on their design and engine capacity.

Do aeroplanes contribute to environmental pollution?

Yes, they emit CO2, but advances are being made in eco-friendly technology.

Can an aeroplane be unmanned?

Yes, there are unmanned aeroplanes like drones.

Are aeroplanes the most common type of aircraft?

Yes, especially for commercial and passenger transport.

Can aeroplanes float on water?

Some are designed as seaplanes to land on water.

Are drones considered aircraft?

Yes, drones are a type of unmanned aircraft.

Can anyone pilot an aeroplane?

No, piloting an aeroplane requires specific training and a license.

Are aircraft tracked during flight?

Yes, air traffic control monitors aircraft for safety.

Can aircraft operate outside the atmosphere?

No, aircraft are designed for atmospheric flight.

Are all aircraft used for transportation?

No, some are used for research, military, or recreation.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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