I saw a video of a Boeing 787 taking off 'vertically' at the Paris Air Show.

How is that even possible? It was to my prior knowledge that only fighter jets had the capability and maneuverability to take off vertically. Is the illusion that the 787 taking off vertically achieved by camera angles?

Be that as it may, the question has to be asked; does any commercial airliner currently in service have the ability to take off vertically?

Boeing 787 alleged 'vertical takeoff'

A Boeing 787 performing a 'vertical takeoff'

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    $\begingroup$ That's not nearly vertical! See also: Could the Boeing 787-9 near vertical takeoff demonstration be performed by Airbus A350 aircraft? $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Apr 27, 2020 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ I'm asking whether a commercial airliner can take off vertically, not specifically regarding the B787 $\endgroup$
    – Super
    Apr 27, 2020 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ Downvoted for improper use of the term vertical. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2020 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall You shouldn't downvote the OP for questioning something that is broadcasted by marketing and press. $\endgroup$
    – bogl
    Apr 28, 2020 at 9:58
  • $\begingroup$ @bogle, Boeing markets the 787 with vertical takeoff capability? Please provide a reference. $\endgroup$ Apr 28, 2020 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


No commercial airliner can take off vertically.

The B787 in your image is not ascending vertically either. Just from the image, I would guess the attitude is about 45 degrees.

As you write, the picture was taken at an airshow. The aircraft was empty and had a lot of spare power to show off.

Besides that, vertical take off means to leave ground without any horizontal speed. Certainly the B787 didn't do that.


A bit of terminology confusion here. There is a difference between a Vertical Takeoff And Landing like one done by the V-22 Osprey, and a vertical climb done by an aerobatic plane or a military fighter. No commercial airliner can achieve VTOL. No commercial airliner has the thrust to weight ratio to maintain a vertical climb for long, neither. In the promotional videos from Boeing, their test pilots go near vertical for seconds before they have to lower the nose in order to prevent a stall.


The angle shown in that photo is about 45 degrees, far from being vertical.

This is a demonstration flight, where the aircraft is nearly empty (probably a light fuel load as well), so it's at about half its MTOW.

The aircraft takes off horizontally, gathering speed along the runway as usual. Then it pulls up in a climb that briefly reaches a high pitch angle, until a stall warning prompts the pilot to reduce his pitch angle. The aircraft can't sustain this for long (the power/weight ratio isn't enough to do that).

I suspect he's also flying at a high angle of attack (i.e. the nose is higher than the angle of his flight path), making the maneuver look more spectacular.

There are aircraft that can pull the nose up into a vertical climb: modern fighters have the 1:1 thrust/weight ratio needed to sustain this. Airliners don't: a 1:1 T/W ratio is overkill for an airliner (the B787 has about 1:4 at full load) which would make the aircraft unnecessarily expensive to operate.


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