How to recognize airplanes with 4 engines: A340, A380 and B747 (Ep.3)

The largest commercial aircraft have 4 engines. Currently in service are models from the Airbus A380 / Airbus A340 and Boeing 747 families. Let's meet them!

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So far I have told you about how to make it easier to recognize and differentiate between Airbus and Boeing aircraft, but also about how to recognize airplanes from the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families. Let's see how to recognize airplanes with 4 engines!

How to recognize wide-body aircraft!

In today's article we go over the analysis of large, wide-body aircraft (with 2 color). The two major aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing, are developing different families of wide-body aircraft. Airbus has in its portfolio the models: A300, A310, A330, A340, A380 and A350. Boeing has in its portfolio the models: B747, B767, B777, B787 Dreamliner.


What are wide-body aircraft? There are those aircraft with large fuselages (6 meters or even over 6 meters in diameter), which have two colors inside and can accommodate between 7 and 10 passengers in a row. These aircraft can carry between 250 and 850 passengers, depending on the model.

To avoid getting tired of a very long article, we decided to divide the wide-body aircraft into models with 2 engines and models with 4 engines. And, as I mentioned in the title, the focus of episode 3 in the series "How to recognize airplanes" will be on airplanes with 4 engines.

Airbus A340, Airbus A380 and Boeing 747

The 3 models are not difficult to recognize. If you are in a large airport and you see airplanes with 4 engines, it is definitely one of the 3 families in the commercial service: Airbus A340, Airbus A380 or Boeing 747.

Airbus A340

Airbus A340 is very easy to recognize. If it's a one-story plane, it has 4 engines and Airbus features, it's definitely an A340.

But the Airbus A340 aircraft family has 4 members: A340-200, A340-300, A340-500 and A340-600. The length of the fuselage should help you distinguish them.


The A340-200 is the smallest in the A340 family, while the A340-600 version is the longest. The 500 and 600 variants come in the High Gross Weight (HGW) variant and are ultra-long range (ULR), which can carry more fuel and have increased flight range.

Why doesn't A340-400 appear? Legend has it that with 1990, Airbus decided to develop a plane named A340-400X, which would be over A340-300 and compete with Boeing 747-100 and -200. Unfortunately, this version proved to be unpopular. The CFM56 engines were at the limit of their operating capacity, and the new A340-400X would have had a range of approximately 10 000 kilometers, under market requirements.

Currently, the Airbus A340 family is no longer in production, but there are still many aircraft in operational service.

Airbus A340-200 - 59.39m

In May 2017, only 10 aircraft of the type were still operational Airbus A340-200 of the 28 manufactured. 8 are in government, military or private fleets. The only remaining public operator is Air Leisure, Egypt. The aircraft has a flight range of up to 13 800 kilometers, and the carrying capacity may vary between 240 and 261 passengers.

Airbus A340-300
Airbus A340-300 - 63.60m

In May 2017, 107 aircraft of the type were still flying Airbus A340-300 of the 218 delivered. This version is larger than the -200, being able to carry up to 295 passengers over a maximum distance of 12 400 kilometers.

Airbus A340-500
Airbus A340-500 - 67.90m

The Airbus A340-500 is longer by 4.3 meters than the -300 version. Can carry up to 313 passengers in a configuration with 3 classes. And flight range can vary between 16020 kilometers and 17 000 kilometers. It can carry up to 50% more fuel compared to the previous version. The central axle of the landing gear received an upgrade, a bogie with 4 wheels to support additional weight.

A340-500 is the aircraft that operated the longest commercial flight in the world until 2013, on the route Singapore - New York, under livery Singapore Airlines. In May 2017, in the commercial service there were 13 A340-500 aircraft, of which only 5 in the public service airlines: Azerbaijan Airlines (2), Etihad Airways (2) and Hi Fly (1).

Airbus-A340-600 - 75.30m

The Airbus A340-600 was launched to compete with Boeing 747. It can carry up to 379 of passengers over a maximum distance of 13900 of kilometers. The aircraft held the record for "world's longest commercial aircraft" until February 2010, with the first flight of the new Boeing 747-8i. In May 2017, in the operational service were 69 of A340-600 aircraft from the 97 delivered.

Airbus A380

I will not insist too much on the model Airbus A380. It is an easily recognizable aircraft, being the only one with two complete axles and 4 engines in all commercial aviation.

Airbus A380

The aircraft is a true work of art of technology. Its dimensions are worthy of the record book: 73 m length, 79,8 m wingspan, 24,1 m height and 7,14 m fuselage width. It can fly at a maximum altitude of 13000m, with a speed of about 900 Km / h, at a maximum distance of 15200km.


At the end of April, 210 A380 aircraft were released on the Airbus factory gate. The largest fleet formed by A380 is at Emirates.

Boeing 747

At this moment, the only aircraft with 4 engines from Boeing is the 747. It is very easy to recognize if you see it on the ground or in the air. Boeing 747 is the only aircraft in the world with a "cockpit", having approximately 1.5 axles and 4 engines. It has a unique and unmistakable structure.


Boeing 747 is manufactured in 6 versions: - 100, -SP, -200, -300, -400 and -8i. The -SP model is 56.3 meters long, the -100, -200, -300, -400 models are 70.66 meters long, and the -8i model is 76.25 meters long. There are also some sub-variants, but we will focus on the 6 main ones.

The first aircraft in the -100 series had 3 windows on each side of the upper deck.

Boeing 747-100
Boeing 747-100

-200 series aircraft have 10 windows on each side of the upper deck.

Boeing 747-200
Boeing 747-200

-300 series aircraft have an extended upper deck compared to -200 and -100. There is also a door at the upper deck between the windows.

Boeing 747-300
Boeing 747-300

The -400 model looks a lot like -300, but the defining factor comes from the wings. It is the only 747 model with winglets on wings (those wing ends)!


Below you have a picture with Boeing 747-8i. It is the longest version of the 747 family. We could say that the difference is very well seen in engines shared with the previous models.

Boeing 747-8i

I finally left the model Boeing 747-SP "Special Performance". 45 B747-SP aircraft were manufactured. Currently, there are several models in the operational service, especially in the VIP sector.

Boeing 747 SP
Boeing 747 SP

If you liked our article, we hope to share it with your friends, fans on social media. Did you fly with these planes? What did you like the most?

  1. Kyongyang says

    It would be Il-96 that flew until recently with Aeroflot and still flies at CUBANA, much like A340 at the structure. It is the only wide-body with 4 engines in active passenger service together with those listed by you.

  2. irimie says

    You forgot one. Even though it is rarer, almost impossible to find, it exists, and it flies!
    Do you know what the appliance is about !? And yes, it's still four-wheel drive!

    1. Sorin Rusi says

      Ilyushin Il-96 has 4 engines, but about other aircraft manufacturers in the next episodes!

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