A heavier-than-air fixed-wing aircraft propelled by one or more engines.
An airplane is a fixed-wing aircraft which is heavier than air and uses one or more engines to provide propulsion; it can be manned (for instance, an airliner or fighter) or unmanned (most types of large unmanned-aerial-vehicle are technically airplanes). The first airplane (the Wright brothers' Flyer) first flew on 17 December 1903, and airplanes now comprise the vast majority of the world's manned aircraft (as they are the only aircraft that can economically carry large payloads long distances at high speeds while remaining fairly simple to fly).
The following types of aircraft are not airplanes:
- rotorcraft (including helicopters, autogyros, and quadcopters) are, as the name indicates, rotary-wing aircraft, rather than fixed-wing. (A tiltrotor operates as an airplane in forward flight, but not during takeoff/landing or when hovering.)
- A glider is powered by gravity and wind, not by an engine (partial exception: a motorglider, which has a small engine for use during takeoff or if updrafts are lacking, operates as an airplane when using its engine).
- A airship is a lighter-than-air vehicle, deriving part or all of its lift from its own buoyancy, although most airships can generate some aerodynamic lift using a specially-shaped envelope or (less efficiently) by flying at an angle.
- A balloon not only is lighter than air, but also lacks an engine for propulsion (hot-air balloons do have one or more burners, but these are used to heat the air in the balloon, causing it to expand and generating lift - not for horizontal motion).