Just heard following somewhere:

It is easy to distinguish four-engine passenger jetliner type, because there are only three of them:

  • if it has "hump" upper deck then it is Boeing 747,
  • if it has two decks then it is Airbus A380,
  • otherwise it is Airbus A340.

Is this statement true?

I'm asking about commercial passenger jetliners only. So no cargo, no military etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Please clarify (by editing your post) what is the focus of the question: How many 4-engine airliners in the world? (title) or how to identify them? (body). I assume this is the latest, but without clarification, you may get answers to the title question. $\endgroup$ – mins May 18 '17 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ Wonder if I'm the only person surprised there's so few aircraft in this list - I would have thought there were way more than a couple of single-deck four-engine airliners in common use. $\endgroup$ – stripybadger May 19 '17 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ @mins "How many... jetliner types", so I assume this is quite straightforward, right? $\endgroup$ – trejder May 20 '17 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ "It is easy to distinguish four-engine passenger jetliner type... Is this statement true?" is also quite straightforward, but not the same question. So do you want to know about the number or whether they can be distinguished easily (and optionally how)? Fortunately enough the selected answer cover both questions. $\endgroup$ – mins May 20 '17 at 13:30

Well, the 3 points you make are easily demonstrable to be true, and also a fairly unique feature of all three if looked at side-by-side.

The 747 is the only one with an obvious hump towards the front of the aircraft. This upper row of windows is unlike either of the other two

747 Photo Aldo Bidini:: source: http://www.airliners.net/photo/Alitalia/Boeing-747-243B/1200648/L?sid=f499b3169d12a0d4f410846e6512443a

The A380 has an entire upper row of windows - it does indeed have 2 full decks.

A380 Richard Vandervord source: http://www.airliners.net/photo/Etihad-Airways/Airbus-A380-861/2574151/L

If it has 4 engines, but neither a half upper deck and hump or a full upper deck (and it's an airbus!) then yes it is an A340

A340 Aero Icarus source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/46423105@N03/5445375360/

However, that is not all the 4 engine passenger aircraft.

The BAe 146 is a 4 engine regional airliner, and you could add to your distinguishing features "has a T-tail, must be a 146". It is also the only one of the bunch with a high wing.

BAe146 Adrian Pingstone source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lufthansa.rj85.arp.jpg

And then we're into the Ilyushins. The Il-96, is easily distinguishable from the similar(ish) A340 as it is considerably smaller - hard to tell from a close-in photo, but in real life if one were parked next to the other the IL-96 is smaller.

IL-96 Anna Zvereva source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/130961247@N06/31268448486/

The Il-86 has 4 engines but does not fit your criteria, as it only remains in service with the Russian Military, but the Il-62 is still in commercial service. It's very easy to distinguish by having its 4 engines mounted on the tail

Il-62 Tim Rees source: http://www.airliners.net/photo/LOT---Polish/Ilyushin-Il-62M/1033235/L

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    $\begingroup$ The II-96 is easy to distinguish - it is so small, the size of an A320 or B737, yet with 4 engines. $\endgroup$ – kevin May 18 '17 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ @jwenting DC8 - 3 still in service, all cargo. No 707's still in airliner service. Travolta still owns one, but I dont think that counts! Il-86 I covered in answer (military only at this time) $\endgroup$ – Jamiec May 18 '17 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec: Your edit makes this answer a very good one! $\endgroup$ – mins May 18 '17 at 12:04
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @mins. I like this sort of question, thy're pretty benign but fun to research :D $\endgroup$ – Jamiec May 18 '17 at 12:08
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    $\begingroup$ I'd distinguish the BAe146 by the fact that it's tiny compared to the other planes. But the T-tail and high wing are also valid. :-) $\endgroup$ – David Richerby May 18 '17 at 17:38

Boeing has B747 with 4 engines. Airbus has A380 and A340 with 4 engines. Antonov has an-124 with 4 engines and an-225 mriya with 6 engines.

  • $\begingroup$ While not very clear, the question is about distinguishing features of airliners with four engines. So how do you identify all of them? $\endgroup$ – mins May 18 '17 at 7:33
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    $\begingroup$ @mins the question as written is about whether a statement that there are only 3 types of 4 engine jetliners is true, not how to distinguish them. So an answer stating there is a 4th type answers the question (no, the statement is not correct). $\endgroup$ – jwenting May 18 '17 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ @mins the question text reads "Is this statement true?" so is about the statement, not the differences between other aircraft. $\endgroup$ – jwenting May 18 '17 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ An-124 and An-225 aren't airliners and aren't in passenger service (question excludes cargo and military aircraft.) $\endgroup$ – reirab May 18 '17 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ As for clarity of my question, I agree. It could be much clearer. I must find some time to edit it to become a bit better. As for reirab's comment, it is true. I was asking about passenger airliners and thus I had both Antonovs in my mind, but that's not what I'm talking about. $\endgroup$ – trejder May 20 '17 at 12:10

You can add the BAe 146 to the list.

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    $\begingroup$ This should be a comment, or build a full answer for: "It is easy to distinguish four-engine passenger jetliner type [...] Is this statement true?" $\endgroup$ – mins May 18 '17 at 7:36

Well... we should not forget legacy aircraft still in use. You might also spot some Douglas DC-8 still in use. In this link I have been able to find 8 planes still in use.

This figure via wikipedia:enter image description here

In order to identify this old model just look to the engines, old fashion slim hets and look to the wing tips, there is no wing tip device.


There's still John's 707 flying around - not commercially granted. There's the VC-10 that could be confused with the IL-62. Only military now but was commercial. And the Avro 85/100. Same but different from the BAe 146. Bit too picky?

  • $\begingroup$ John Travolta returned to the Australian Historical Aircraft Restoration society (HARS) museum near Sydney. ref -> flyingmag.com/… $\endgroup$ – computingfreak Dec 17 '17 at 15:35

As stated in other answers, there are quite a few more 4 engined jet liners than just the three types stated in your claim. Identification of the 747 and A380 is pretty simple indeed and correctly asserted in the claim.

Other types will all have their own characteristics, which would have to be found by studying photos and/or drawings of the aircraft in question (and possibly knowledge of which types can be expected at a specific airport, e.g. you're not going to find Il-62s in western Europe because they're banned there for noise abatement reasons).


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