When you see a gigantic airplane floating in the sky, its natural to ask “How much does a plane weigh?” After all, how can something so big effortlessly glide through the air without falling to a crash?
The weight of a plane is typically measured in pounds (lb) or kilograms (kg) or tons and is an important parameter in Aviation as it affects the plane’s performance, fuel consumption, and other aspects of its operation.
When thinking about how much an air plane weighs, It’s important to understand that the weight of a plane can fluctuate significantly depending on its size, type, and the amount of fuel, cargo, and passengers it is carrying. Commercial airliners, like Safarilink and Overland Airlines for example, can weigh anywhere from tens of thousands to over a million pounds, depending on their size and capacity.
To determine just how much a plane weighs, you would need sum up the weights of all the components of the aircraft, which includes the airframe, the engines, fuel, passengers, cargo, and any other items on board. Also, the weight of a plane can change during flight as fuel is consumed, and passengers or cargo are loaded or unloaded.
Types of planes
Before we go into how much a plane weighs, it’s important to know all the types of airplanes that exist. There are numerous types of planes, each designed for specific purposes and functions. Here are some common categories and types of planes:
- Narrow-Body Airliners (e.g., Boeing 737, Airbus A320)
- Wide-Body Airliners (e.g., Boeing 777, Airbus A380)
- Turboprop Regional Jets (e.g., Bombardier Q400, ATR 72)
- Regional Jets (e.g., Embraer E-Jet series, Bombardier CRJ series)
- Cargo Jets (e.g., Boeing 747-400F, Antonov An-124)
- Cargo Turboprops (e.g., Lockheed C-130 Hercules)
- Fighter Jets (e.g., F-16 Fighting Falcon, Sukhoi Su-27)
- Bombers (e.g., B-2 Spirit, Tu-95 Bear)
- Transport and Cargo Aircraft (e.g., C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster)
- Reconnaissance Aircraft (e.g., U-2 Dragon Lady, Global Hawk)
- Helicopters (e.g., Apache AH-64, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk)
- Light Jets (e.g., Cessna Citation Mustang, Phenom 100)
- Midsize Jets (e.g., Hawker 800XP, Citation XLS)
- Super Midsize Jets (e.g., Gulfstream G280, Challenger 350)
- Heavy Jets (e.g., Gulfstream G550, Global Express)
General Aviation Aircraft:
- Single-Engine Piston (e.g., Cessna 172, Piper PA-28)
- Multi-Engine Piston (e.g., Beechcraft Baron, Piper Seneca)
- Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)
- Civilian Helicopters (e.g., Bell 407, Robinson R44)
- Military Helicopters (e.g., AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk)
- Amphibious Seaplanes (e.g., Icon A5, Dornier Seastar)
- Amphibious Flying Boats (e.g., Grumman Goose, Beriev Be-200)
Experimental and Homebuilt Aircraft:
- Kit-Built Aircraft (e.g., Van’s RV series, Zenith CH series)
- Custom-Built and One-of-a-Kind Aircraft
Gliders and Sailplanes:
- Non-powered aircraft designed for soaring and gliding.
Agricultural and Crop Dusters:
- Specialized planes used for aerial application of pesticides and fertilizers.
- Designed for aerial acrobatics and airshows.
UAVs and Drones:
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles used for various purposes, including surveillance, photography, and military applications.
How much does a plane weigh in pounds, kilos (Kg) or tons?
It’s important to note that the aviation industry uses metric tons (Tonnes) as the standard unit of weight for large aircraft in most parts of the world, but the weight may also be expressed in pounds and kilograms for convenience sake in some contexts. Below are general ranges of plane weights in Kg, Pounds & Tonnes:
Small General Aviation Aircraft:
- Weight in pounds (lb): 1,000 to 12,000 lb
- Weight in kilograms (kg): 450 to 5,400 kg
- Weight in tons (metric tons): 0.45 to 5.4 metric tons
- Weight in pounds (lb): 30,000 to 90,000 lb
- Weight in kilograms (kg): 13,600 to 40,800 kg
- Weight in tons (metric tons): 13.6 to 40.8 metric tons
Narrow-Body Commercial Airliners (e.g., Boeing 737, Airbus A320):
- Weight in pounds (lb): 80,000 to 180,000 lb
- Weight in kilograms (kg): 36,300 to 81,600 kg
- Weight in tons (metric tons): 36.3 to 81.6 metric tons
Wide-Body Commercial Airliners (e.g., Boeing 777, Airbus A380):
- Weight in pounds (lb): 300,000 to 1.3 million lb
- Weight in kilograms (kg): 136,000 to 590,000 kg
- Weight in tons (metric tons): 136 to 590 metric tons
Cargo Aircraft (e.g., Boeing 747, Antonov An-124):
- Weight in pounds (lb): 700,000 to 1.4 million lb
- Weight in kilograms (kg): 318,000 to 635,000 kg
- Weight in tons (metric tons): 318 to 635 metric tons
Frequently asked questions
Because planes differ in models, sizes and more, its natural that flyers who wonder about the weight of an Airplane want to know about specific planes like a Boeing or a Bombardier. To that effect, here are answers to your burning questions:
Q1. How much does a Boeing 737 plane weigh?
The approximate empty weight (the weight of the aircraft without passengers, cargo, or fuel) of a typical Boeing 737 is as follows:
- Weight in pounds (lb): Approximately 80,000 to 100,000 pounds.
- Weight in kilograms (kg): Approximately 36,300 to 45,400 kilograms.
- Weight in metric tons (tonnes): Approximately 36.3 to 45.4 metric tonnes.
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Q2. How much does a plane weigh with passengers?
So how much does a plane weigh if it has passengers onboard? It weights approximately 5,000kg to 600,000kg depending on the particular aircraft. Nevertheless, this isn’t as straight forward to answer as you think. It’s a multi-answer response that goes like this:
- General Aviation Aircraft: Small general aviation planes can typically carry a few passengers and have a total weight that includes the weight of passengers, baggage, and fuel. The weight of such aircraft, with passengers, can range from a few thousand pounds to around 12,000 pounds (approximately 2,268 to 5,440 kilograms).
- Regional Jets: Regional jets like the Embraer E-Jet series or Bombardier CRJ series can carry between 50 to 100 passengers. The total weight of the aircraft with passengers can range from around 30,000 to 90,000 pounds (approximately 13,600 to 40,800 kilograms).
- Narrow-Body Commercial Airliners: Aircraft like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 series are used for short to medium-haul flights and can carry anywhere from around 100 to 240 passengers. The total weight of the aircraft with passengers can range from approximately 80,000 to 180,000 pounds (approximately 36,300 to 81,600 kilograms).
- Wide-Body Commercial Airliners: Larger wide-body aircraft like the Boeing 777 or Airbus A330 can carry several hundred passengers and have a significantly higher total weight. The weight with passengers can range from 300,000 to 1.3 million pounds (approximately 136,000 to 590,000 kilograms).
- Cargo Aircraft: Cargo planes, such as the Boeing 747 or the Antonov An-124, are designed to carry freight rather than passengers. The total weight of these aircraft can vary widely based on the cargo being transported, but it can be in the range of 700,000 to 1.4 million pounds (approximately 318,000 to 635,000 kilograms) or more when fully loaded.
Q3. How much does a Cargo plane weigh?
The weight of a cargo plane, also known as a freighter or cargo aircraft, can be between 6,000kg to 600,000kg depending on the specific type of aircraft, its model, and the payload its carrying. Cargo planes are designed to carry various types of freight and cargo, and their weight can range from relatively small to very large.
Here are some examples of the weight range for different cargo planes:
- Small Cargo Aircraft: Small cargo planes, such as the Cessna Caravan or the Beechcraft King Air, are used for transporting lighter loads. These planes typically have a takeoff weight ranging from approximately 5,000 to 15,000 pounds (approximately 2,268 to 6,804 kilograms).
- Medium Cargo Aircraft: Medium-sized cargo planes, like the C-130 Hercules or the ATR 42/72 freighter variants, can carry larger loads and have a takeoff weight that can range from approximately 60,000 to 160,000 pounds (approximately 27,216 to 72,576 kilograms).
- Large Cargo Aircraft: Large cargo planes, such as the Boeing 747-400F or the Antonov An-124 Ruslan, are capable of carrying heavy and oversized cargo. Their takeoff weight can range from 700,000 to 1.4 million pounds (approximately 318,000 to 635,000 kilograms) or even more, depending on the specific model and modifications.
Q4. How much does a Private Jet plane weigh?
So how much does a Private Jet weight? The weight of a private jet ranges between 5,000kg to 45,000kg depending on the specific make and model of the aircraft. Private jets come in various sizes and configurations, and their weight can be significantly different from one model to another. Here are some approximate weight ranges for different categories of private jets:
- Light Jets: Light private jets, such as the Cessna Citation Mustang or the Embraer Phenom 100, typically have a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) in the range of approximately 8,000 to 12,000 pounds (approximately 3,629 to 5,443 kilograms).
- Midsize Jets: Midsize private jets, like the Cessna Citation XLS or the Hawker 800XP, have a higher MTOW compared to light jets. Their weight can range from approximately 15,000 to 20,000 pounds (approximately 6,804 to 9,072 kilograms).
- Super Midsize Jets: Super midsize private jets, such as the Gulfstream G280 or the Bombardier Challenger 350, are larger and can have an MTOW in the range of 30,000 to 40,000 pounds (approximately 13,608 to 18,144 kilograms).
- Heavy Jets: Heavy private jets, like the Gulfstream G550 or the Bombardier Global Express, are among the largest private jets available. Their MTOW can range from approximately 75,000 to 100,000 pounds (approximately 34,019 to 45,359 kilograms) or even higher.
It’s important to note that the weight of a plane can vary based on factors such as the specific model, interior configuration, optional equipment, and modifications made by the owner. Additionally, the weight of an airline may vary depending on whether it is empty or fully loaded with passengers, baggage, and fuel.
Airline owners and operators must adhere to weight and balance limits to ensure the safety and performance of the aircraft during flight.