Wikipedia:Notability (aircraft)

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This page gives some rough guidelines intended to be used by Wikipedia editors to decide whether an aircraft is notable for the purposes of having a separate article on Wikipedia. While satisfying these notability guidelines generally indicates an aircraft warrants an article, failing to satisfy them is not a criterion for speedy deletion.

These guidelines may be considered a specialized version of Wikipedia:Notability, applied to aircraft, reflecting the following core Wikipedia policies:

Claims of notability must adhere to Wikipedia's policy on attribution; it is not enough to simply assert that an aircraft meets a criterion without substantiating that claim with reliable sources.

"Notability" as used herein is not a reflection of an aircraft's "worth". A particular aircraft may have been used for hundreds of life-saving rescues, been involved in a famous military action, or belonged to a particularly colourful local character, while still not being notable enough to ensure sufficient verifiable source material exists to create an article in an encyclopedia.

Coverage notes[edit]

This guideline provides notability criteria for all types of machines and devices (other than models and toys[1]) that utilise aerostatic or aerodynamic lift to fly: heavier-than-air and lighter-than-air, powered and unpowered, piloted and remotely-piloted, fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft are all included.

It provides criteria for broad "types"[2] of aircraft (e.g.: Boeing 747, F-15 Eagle), subtypes and variants (e.g.: Boeing 747-400, F-15E Strike Eagle) and individual aircraft (e.g.: Spirit of St. Louis, Memphis Belle). Any of these may qualify as "an aircraft" for the purposes of this guideline.

This guideline does not generally provide criteria for rockets, spacecraft, or missiles unless they also fit the basic criterion of flying through aerodynamic or aerostatic lift.

It does not provide criteria for imaginary, fictional,[3] or hypothetical aircraft, but does cover aircraft currently under development as well as abandoned projects and design studies where the resulting aircraft would have been covered by these guidelines had it been completed.

Finally, it does not provide criteria for broad categories of aircraft, such as airliner, sailplane, weather balloon, or autogyro.[4]


Note that the line between "type" and subtype or variant is not necessarily clear-cut; and has occasionally been deliberately blurred in one direction or the other for political and/or marketing reasons. In general, Wikipedia editors are prima facie guided by the names, designations, and model numbers applied by the relevant aircraft manufacturer and/or aviation authorities.


An aircraft is generally notable if it is verifiably — through reliable sources — a distinct "type" as demonstrated by any one or more of the following criteria:

  1. The aircraft has been issued with an aircraft type designator[5] by the International Civil Aviation Organization. (e.g.: the Taylor Coot has the aircraft type designator "COOT")
  2. The aircraft has received a type certificate from a national aviation authority. (e.g.: the Bellanca CH-300 was granted U.S. Approved Type Certificate 129.)
  3. The aircraft flew in prototype form and would require a separate type certificate for normal operation, even if this certification has not (yet) been obtained (e.g.: the Avtek 400's certification programme was abandoned before complete)
  4. The aircraft has been recognised as a distinct type for the purposes of civil registration by any national aviation authority (e.g.: VH-DEF is a Kavanagh B-105 hot-air balloon registered by Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority).
  5. The aircraft has received a distinct designation from the national aviation authority or the armed forces of any nation. (e.g.: the Focke-Wulf Ta 183 is notable as a type, because it received a distinct designation from the Reich Aviation Ministry even if it was never built, much less flown.)
  6. The aircraft has received a distinct model number from a builder or manufacturer of other notable aircraft. (e.g.: since Blériot built other notable types, the Blériot X is notable, even if this particular aircraft was not completed or flown.)
  7. The aircraft (or its plans or kit) is or was offered for commercial (not simply private) sale.
  8. The aircraft is treated as a distinct type in reliable secondary sources; for example its own distinct entry in Jane's All the World's Aircraft or similar industry publications, or an encyclopedia of aircraft or similar reliable work.

In those situations where the aircraft type does not fit the established criteria for notability, it may be better to feature material about it in an article about a closely-related design or (if none exist) about the aircraft's builder or manufacturer, rather than creating a separate article for that aircraft.

Subtypes and variants[edit]

It is a general consensus on Wikipedia that articles should not be split and split again into ever more minutiae of detail treatment, with each split normally lowering the level of notability. What this means is that while an aircraft type may be notable, it is not normally advisable to have a separate article for subtypes, much less individual airframes, and it is often the case that despite the aircraft type being manifestly notable, a derivative article from it is not. Exceptions do, of course, exist.

An aircraft is not necessarily notable if it is:

  1. A subtype (e.g.: the P-51H Mustang, a subtype of P-51 Mustang)
  2. A licenced or unlicenced copy of another aircraft (e.g.: the Avia F.39, a licence-built Fokker F.IX, or the Atlas Kudu, an unlicenced copy of the Aermacchi AL.60)
  3. A modification or remanufacture of an existing aircraft (e.g.: the Conroy Turbo Three, a Douglas DC-3 remanufactured with turboprop engines)
  4. An alternative designation for the same aircraft under a different national system (e.g.: the CT-33 Silver Star, the Canadian designation for the T-33 Shooting Star).

The creation of articles on subtypes is almost always for pragmatic reasons. In each of the above examples, a separate article may become warranted if the parent article grows to the point where it may be split to a new article, and notability can be demonstrated using the criteria below. This should occur as a top down process – see {{splitsection}}, and common sense dictates that the most famous and/or numerically significant subtype(s) should be split off first. Rather than creating separate articles for each subtype of an aircraft, it is common to create a combined article on all variants of an aircraft, treating them in more detail than the summary "Variants" section in the major article about a type (e.g. Supermarine Spitfire variants).

A subtype may be notable if its parent article requires splitting and it meets any one of the following criteria:

  1. The aircraft has received a distinct designation from the national aviation authority or the armed forces of any nation. (e.g.: the Supermarine Spitfire IX is an eligible subtype, because it received a designation as a distinct Mark of Supermarine Spitfire from the British Air Ministry.)
  2. The aircraft has received a distinct model number from its builder or manufacturer. (e.g.: the Bell 47G is an eligible subtype of Bell 47)
  3. The aircraft is reported as a distinct subtype in reliable secondary sources; for example Jane's All the World's Aircraft or similar industry publications, or an encyclopedia of aircraft or similar reliable work.

It follows that the creation of an article on a sub-subtype should not occur unless a similar process has occurred. (e.g. the Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a should not be considered for a separate article until and unless the article on the Messerschmitt Me 262A has grown to the point where a split becomes necessary.

Individual aircraft[edit]

Since the late 18th Century, hundreds of thousands of flying machines have been built. Amongst these, an individual aircraft is almost certainly not notable unless it has been at least one of the following:

  1. The major subject of a reliable book or monograph
  2. The major subject of a half hour or longer broadcast on a national radio or TV network.
  3. The subject[6] of multiple, non-trivial[7] published works whose sources are independent of the aircraft's builder, manufacturer, owner, or operator[8], with at least some of these works serving a general audience.

Note that an individual aircraft may be notable as a unique example of a distinct "type" under the criteria set out above. In this case, it is the aircraft's "type" that is significant, not its notability as an individual airframe, and this will be borne out in the naming of the article.

Other considerations[edit]

Special note: advertising and promotion[edit]

Advertising is prohibited as an official Wikipedia policy of long standing. Advertising should be removed by following these steps, in order of precedence:

  1. Clean up per Wikipedia:neutral point of view
  2. Delete remaining advertising content from the article
  3. Delete the article, by listing it at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion if no notable content remains. However, if an article contains only blatant advertising, with no other useful content, it may be tagged per Wikipedia:Criteria for speedy deletion instead.

It should always weigh against an article's inclusion if the manufacturer or other interested party is the creator of the Wikipedia article. See Wikipedia:Conflict of interest for more information.

Future aircraft[edit]

Since Wikipedia is not a crystal ball articles about aircraft that have not yet been built are generally discouraged unless reliable sources provide strong evidence that the project is likely to come to fruition, or it is a project by a manufacturer of otherwise notable aircraft.


Sample encyclopedic works[edit]

  • Apostolo, Giorgio (1984). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Helicopters. New York: Bonanza.
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions.
  • Simpson, R. W. (1998). Airlife's Helicopters and Rotorcraft. Ramsbury: Airlife Publishing.
  • World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Orbis.
  • Simpson, R. W. (1995). Airlife's General Aviation. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing.
  • Nowarra, Heinz (1983). Die deutsche Luftrüstung 1933–1945. Bonn: Bernard and Graefe.

Authoritative websites[edit]

  • [1] – the ICAO directory of types. Note that this directory generally covers only types where there is at least one example flying somewhere in the world; historic types are generally not listed.
  • [2] – the U.S. FAA database of Type Certificate Data Sheets. This covers all type certificates current in the United States and many expired and historic certificates.
  • [3] – the European Aviation Safety Agency database of Type Certificate Data Sheets for aircraft of the EU.
  • [4] – a searchable, online version of The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Directory of Airplanes: their Designers and Manufacturers – exhaustive list of types and subtypes from throughout the world and all eras, but excluding lighter-than-air and remotely-piloted aircraft.
  • [5] – The Royal Air Force Museum Aircraft Thesaurus – exhaustive list of types and subtypes from throughout the world and all eras, but excluding lighter-than-air aircraft and with limited coverage of remotely-piloted aircraft. Alternative names and designations noted.
  • [6] – An online version of V.B.Shavrov's History of Aircraft Construction in the Soviet Union – Russian language only but exhaustive coverage of Russian and Soviet-built types and subtypes. Heavier-than-air aircraft only.
  • [7] – The Flightglobal website, which includes a full searchable PDF archive of all issues of Flight / Flight International since its creation in 1909. Also available is a unique photographic archive covering all aspects of aviation, the well-known series of Flight cutaway drawings and much more. As an example, this one [8] shows an aeroplane being delivered to a 1910 Blackpool airshow on a horse-drawn cart. Most of the content is covered by copyright but it is a fantastic research resource. Agreement has been reached so that images may be grabbed from the PDF archive for use in WP if linked to the source and correctly attributed to Flightglobal.

Other useful websites[edit]

The following websites display evidence of meticulous research and may be considered generally reliable; however, they are still private websites and should therefore be used with caution and verified against other sources.

  • [9] – – extensive database of sailplane types from around the world. Emphasis is on modern/current designs.
  • [10]Das Virtuelle Luftfahrtmuseum – extensive database of types from around the world and throughout time. Little coverage of lighter-than-air types. Site is mainly in German, but most is available in English as well.
  • [11] – – exhaustive list of every aircraft type and subtype produced in the United States, including many aircraft poorly documented (if documented at all) elsewhere.
  • [12]Helicopters in Czechia – extensive listing of helicopters built and flown in Czechia and Czechoslovakia. Text in Czech only.
  • [13] - Уголок неба "Sky Corner" - detailed directory of military (and some civil) types and subtypes with the emphasis on Russian and Soviet aircraft. Main text in Russian, some pages available in English in abbreviated versions.
  • [14]Russian Aviation Museum – exhaustive database of all aircraft built or operated in Russia and the Soviet Union. Based heavily on Shavrov's work.
  • [15]Official Guide to Experimental Aircraft – directory of homebuilt aircraft, with emphasis on advertising by manufacturers currently in business.
  • [16] – exhaustive database of every aircraft type and subtype built in France.
  • [17] – – database section of popular aircraft photography site. Emphasis is on commercial aircraft from the US and Western Europe post-World War II
  • [18] – – database of aircraft specifications in German
  • [19] – exhaustive database of every aircraft type and subtype built in the Netherlands.
  • [20] – Enrico Pezzi memorial site – exhaustive database of every aircraft type and subtype built in Italy up to 1945.
  • [21] – exhaustive database of almost every flying boat to ever fly.
  • [22] – intended to be a complete directory of every aircraft type built in the UK.


  1. ^ Wikipedia:Notability (toys and games) may provide guidance for flying models and toys
  2. ^ In the aviation world, the word "type" has a specialised narrow meaning, namely, an aircraft design that has been issued with a type certificate from a relevant authority. In more casual usage, it may refer to a family of very closely related designs, even when these are not necessarily all covered by the same type certificate. Unless indicated otherwise, it is this latter sense that is used throughout this guideline.
  3. ^ Wikipedia:Notability (fiction) may provide guidance for fictional aircraft
  4. ^ Any such category in general use in English will be manifestly notable, and any such category not in general use will need to be assessed against the policy to avoid neologisms.
  5. ^ "Search engine for issued aircraft type designators". International Civil Aviation Organization. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  6. ^ "subject" means non-trivial treatment and excludes mere mention of the aircraft, but not necessarily the sole or major subject of the work.
  7. ^ "Non-trivial" excludes personal websites, blogs, bulletin boards, Usenet posts, wikis and other media that are not themselves reliable. An analysis of the manner of treatment is crucial as well; for example is reliable, but postings to that site by members of the public on a subject do not share the site's imprimatur.
  8. ^ Independent does not mean independent of the aviation industry, but only refers to those actually involved with the production, operation, or preservation of this particular aircraft.

See also[edit]