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Very much a hypothetical question:

At Trondheim a few days ago we had quite a long, fast (to my experience) pushback: now obviously we didn't hit anything close to Vr, but it started me wondering if an airliner could theoretically fly in reverse.

Say for the sake of argument that we flipped the engines round without introducing any other problems, and stuck a window in the tail with a seat, controls and flight instruments in front of it... then put the plane on a runway and tried to take off. Would the airfoil allow the aircraft to take off? Would it be in any way controllable? Obviously I'm not expecting the plane to be flyable by a pilot, merely curious if it's theoretically possible aerodynamically (perhaps computer controlled).

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    $\begingroup$ Related: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/19114/… $\endgroup$ – Roger Lipscombe Dec 23 '15 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ It would be kind of like throwing a dart feathers first. $\endgroup$ – Dan Pichelman Dec 23 '15 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe you want to ask first if a wing could generate lift backwards (that is with an angle of attack near 180°), because for an aircraft you are also adding the problem of converting the tail surfaces into canards, which is a big issue. $\endgroup$ – mins Dec 23 '15 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ @mins - basically, yes - I asked mostly under the assumption that the control surfaces wouldn't actually be usable, but that would perhaps have been a clearer question $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Dec 23 '15 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ Look at the lift/drag ratio for this airfoil, just after 180° (which should be the actual AoA for the wing in your question). It seems the airfoil has some lift. $\endgroup$ – mins Dec 23 '15 at 14:32