Can the bigger planes like B737 do barrel rolling kind of stunts like fighter jets do? I'm sure if it's full of passengers or cargo it would be very difficult and dangerous, but is it possible with an empty aircraft?

I remember an All Nippon Airways incident where the co-pilot did a 131 deg roll by mistake but I don't know if a complete barrel roll is actually possible in large planes?

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    $\begingroup$ Well, it happened once: youtu.be/AaA7kPfC5Hk. That was a much older plane, though. $\endgroup$ – raptortech97 Jan 31 '15 at 6:31
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    $\begingroup$ Big airplane implies big inertia (including roll-wise inertia) and such airplanes are not design to perform such maneuvers. Even if it is not impossible, it must be difficult. $\endgroup$ – Manu H Jan 31 '15 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm... I'm not sure that I'd consider this question a duplicate, since the other one is about actual sustained inverted flight, whereas this one was about barrel rolls. Those are two different questions (with very different answers.) Given sufficient altitude, almost any airplane can do a barrel roll, since it's a 1G maneuver, as the pilot who did it in the video raptortech linked correctly pointed out. $\endgroup$ – reirab May 12 '15 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ Big helicopters can do it too. youtube.com/watch?v=MQ7pVjQ5Y5g $\endgroup$ – Sports Racer May 14 '15 at 19:16

Yes, it has been done before in an even larger aircraft, the Boeing 367-80, very famously by "Tex" Johnston on August 7, 1955. This aircraft was the prototype for the Model 707.

When a barrel roll maneuver is properly performed the aircraft remains in a positive-G state, so no "inverted flight" is experienced by the aircraft. According to the International Aerobatic Club,

The Barrel roll is a combination between a loop and a roll. You complete one loop while completing one roll at the same time. The flight path during a barrel roll has the shape of a horizontal cork screw. Imagine a big barrel, with the airplanes wheels rolling along the inside of the barrel in a cork screw path. During a barrel roll, the pilot always experiences positive Gs. The maximum is about 2.5 to 3 G. The minimum about 0.5 G.


Yes, and its happened at least once in a -80 which eventually became the 707.

It became so legendary that rumor has it

Boeing Chief Test Pilot John Cashman stated that just before he piloted the maiden flight of the Boeing 777 on June 12, 1994, his last instructions from then-Boeing President Phil Condit were "No rolls."

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    $\begingroup$ LOL That's a shame. I'd love to see a video of a 777 executing a barrel roll. $\endgroup$ – reirab May 13 '15 at 3:54

Yes, it is possible. We experienced this possibility using a simulator on a 747/400. You have to take a very high angle at the beginning like 25° nose up to avoid exiting with an important nose down and overspeed. Of course doing it with passenger is stricly forbiden.

  • $\begingroup$ That would certainly liven up a boring flight... $\endgroup$ – tj1000 Jun 23 '18 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ What if you get a majority of the passengers to vote in favour first? :) $\endgroup$ – Wossname Jan 8 at 11:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Wossname The minority would sue, and likely win. $\endgroup$ – T.J.L. Jan 8 at 16:10

Here is a video of a stolen Q400 Dash-8 doing a barrel roll. That's not quite as large as a B737, but I think it's close enough for the purposes of the question, especially given it was accomplished by an amateur. It's fair to assume that a trained pilot could do at least as well in a much larger plane--if they were willing to risk their job/license.


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