Standard Article

Civil Transport Aircraft

Vehicle Design

Vehicle Configurations and Performance

  1. Egbert Torenbeek,
  2. Gianfranco La Rocca

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470686652.eae379

Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering

Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering

How to Cite

Torenbeek, E. and La Rocca, G. 2010. Civil Transport Aircraft. Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering. .

Author Information

  1. Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, the Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


The chapter presents an overview of jet airliner evolution after the Second World War. It illustrates that modern airliner general arrangement is based on early concepts, namely the Boeing B-47 bomber and the B-707 airliner of the 1950s. The most significant economical and environmental improvements were achieved in gas turbine engine technology, culminating in the modern very efficient and reliable high-bypass ratio turbofan. A concise geometrical description of the aircraft's main components is followed by a brief description of major technological breakthroughs over the past decades. Subjects treated are flight control, avionics, structural design, and materials. The continuously improving energy efficiency is illustrated by a data collection showing that the seat-km per liter of gas turbine fuel produced by modern jet airliners exceeds the performance of mid-sized cars, even though their cruising speed is an order of magnitude higher.


  • Airworthiness certification;
  • airplane configurations;
  • wing design;
  • gas turbine engines;
  • fly-by-wire;
  • structural materials and design;
  • energy efficiency;
  • airline economics