Could any large airliner or GA aircraft survive a horizontal roll? Or would a large aircraft break up from structural damage?


Could it? Yes.
Tex Johnson famously performed a roll in a Boeing 707. If performed properly it is a 1G maneuver (the airframe experiences +1G stresses through the maneuver - as far as it's concerned nothing unusual is happening).

Should you attempt such a maneuver without aerobatic training? No.
Should you attempt it in an aircraft not certificated for aerobatic flight? Absolutely Not.
This is one of those "If you do it wrong the wings fall off" maneuvers, and chances are you're not Tex Johnson.

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    $\begingroup$ Also should be noted that A380 won't let you do it as it has both pitch and roll angle limit. B777 and 787 won't let you do it either, though I don't think they ported the system to 747-8. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Aug 3 '15 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ I think the question is not asking about an intentional roll, but a survivable recovery from a inadvertent inverted attitude. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Aug 3 '15 at 18:49

A properly executed roll isn't an inversion as far as the airplane is concerned. A ground observer will see the airplane roll and be upside down for a time, but the airplane in a 1G roll will think it is right side up the entire time. An observer in the airplanes reference frame would not experience the roll as the gravity vector is a constant 1G pointed through the bottom of the seat during the entire roll (see this video).

As pointed out in this other answer, don't do this in an airplane not certified for it. Yes, it can be done, but if not flown perfectly the outcome is likely death in a large turbojet airplane.


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