Wikipedia:WikiProject Aviation/Style guide/Layout (Aircraft)

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This is a set of suggested guidelines for articles on specific aircraft types. Some Wikipedians prefer a standardised look and feel to articles on closely-related subjects and these guidelines exist to facilitate achieving that goal for articles about aircraft.

For general guidelines about writing and editing Wikipedia articles, see Category:Wikipedia style guidelines.


Every article in Wikipedia has a name, and most aircraft articles are named by their manufacturer, then by name and/or designation number, for example Boeing 747, Supermarine Spitfire.

Articles should always be named as generally as possible, so an article should only be named after a subtype (e.g. Messerschmitt Bf 109G) if writing about that specific version of the aircraft. Usually this will mean that we already have a more general article about the aircraft, relevant to all subtypes. If no general article exists, it may be worthwhile expanding the article slightly so that it encompasses all variants of the aircraft.


Every article should begin with a short introduction naming the aircraft, its manufacturer(s), and the general category of aircraft it belongs to. For example:

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single-engine, high wing, fixed-wing aircraft made by the Cessna Aircraft Company. First flown in 1955, more Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft.[1]

Without going any further, a reader should already have a good basic idea of what kind of aircraft the article is describing. The first sentence should be in present tense if flyable aircraft exist. But if the aircraft is extinct or only found in museums then use past tense.

NATO reporting names

To support ease of identification, articles about Russian military aircraft with official NATO designation names should bear the NATO name in bold-faced type within parentheses in the first line, secondary to the primary title, per the Wikipedia style guide on secondary names in lead sections. For example:

The Sukhoi Su-9 (NATO reporting name: Fishpot) was a single-engine, all-weather, missile-armed interceptor aircraft developed by the Soviet Union.[2]

However, in the interest of preserving the original designations, the NATO reporting name should only be used in the variants section as comments and not elsewhere throughout the body. It should not be used to describe or denote the aircraft beyond direct quotations from sources.


If the article is of moderate length or longer, an infobox is often a good way to sum up relevant information. {{Infobox aircraft type}} presents data such as manufacturer, maiden flight, service entry and retirement dates, number produced, and other quick facts in a fairly attractive and concise fashion. For the most part, as there is an appropriate field in the infobox itself, including the manufacturer in the "name" field is not necessary. Some exceptions exist, such as aircraft which only have model numbers. Flags should not be used in the infobox to indicate national origin.

Based on several past discussions, the infobox is purely optional, though infoboxes including specifications are frowned upon. {{Infobox aircraft type}} was designed with input from the project and its use is encouraged.


The body of the article describes the aircraft in greater detail. This information is often best arranged in sections, especially in longer articles. Some frequently used sections in aircraft articles include any and all of the following:


Describing the history behind the aircraft, often discussing why a manufacturer, airline, or air force felt there was a need for such an aircraft.


Describing design, and major features of the aircraft. If noteworthy describe markings that the aircraft flew in, especially distinguishing or unusual schemes. Extensive descriptions of common or routine color schemes and markings are to be avoided. (Can be combined with above section as "Design and development" if both sections are small, or if the text works better when covered together.)

Operational history

Describing the history of the aircraft in use. This section is something like a "biography" of the aircraft.
For information on when it is appropriate to include the aircraft the registration, serial numbers, construction numbers and other individual identifiers in an article or captions, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Aviation/Registrations.


Describing major subtypes or variants of the aircraft. These can be arranged in subsections - see Messerschmitt Me 163 for an example of how this can be done.


Usually a collection of links to airlines or individual air force squadrons that are using or have used this type. May be separated into military and civilian sub-sections if applicable and workable. Do not place potential operators in this section, only confirmed orders with likelihood of near-term production. Potential orders and interest by governments should be covered in the main text, either under "Development" or "Operational history", as fits best in the article. Operators should be in one list and not seperated between former and current operators, former operators can be indicated inline with a reliable reference.
For civil aircraft types that have a large number of operators, many of whom may have just one or two aircraft, instead of listing them all, a general statement can be made, as applicable to the role and operators of the individual aircraft type, with wording similar to: "The aircraft is popular with air charter companies and small feeder airlines, and is operated by private individuals and companies." A mention may be made of particularly large fleet operators.

Accidents and incidents

For information on which accidents and incidents to include in aircraft type article please see WP:AIRCRASH.

The section header can be changed to just 'Accidents' or just 'Incidents' if applicable to the contents.

Aircraft on display

Aircraft on display should be information on non-airworthy aircraft that are on permanent public display. It should not include partial aircraft or aircraft not viewable by the public. When a large number of aircraft are still preserved the list should be limited to the most prominent ones.

Surviving aircraft

This section should contain information on aircraft that have survived following the retirement of the aircraft type from normal military or commercial use. It should include airworthy aircraft and any non-airworthy aircraft not on public display but otherwise notable.


Images should enhance the article in which they are placed and should also feature the subject of the article section near which they are placed.

  • Infobox or lead images should show the aircraft in flight whenever such a picture is available. If an in-flight image is not available then the infobox or lead photo should show the best overall view of the aircraft and not a detail close up or similar shot. Detail photos should be further down, in the sections they better illustrate (i.e. Landing gear, instrument panel).
  • Please use the "thumbnail" option for all images other than those inside infoboxes and the three-view drawing (where one is included in the specifications section). In accordance with Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Images, do not specify the size of the thumbnail as this is specified in user preferences.
  • Wherever possible use free images, preferably uploaded to the Commons.
  • The quality of an image is always more important than the quantity of images included — a gallery or a link to the Commons is preferable to flooding an article with images.
  • Any captions should be concise and not overwhelm the image.
  • Many existing images used in aircraft articles have been carefully selected to illustrate specific variants, angles of view or aircraft features. These images should not be deleted from articles without discussion and consensus that this action will improve the article on the article's talk page. Images may be added to the article without removing or replacing existing images without discussion.
  • Though not a requirement, the aircraft in images should preferably face the text. That is, it is preferred for aircraft facing the right to be aligned to the left, and vice versa. However, image quality is more important than this rule.
  • Aircraft performance diagrams are considered by consensus to be too technical for a general encyclopedia and are not used in aircraft type articles.

Aircraft specifications

Note: through much of 2004, WikiProject Aircraft was using a table to present aircraft specifications, now archived.

This is a short summary of aircraft's characteristics and performance. If an article doesn't have specifications, you can either tag the article with {{aero-specs}} or add them yourself. Please use the {{Aircraft specs}} or {{Aircraft specifications}} conditional templates when adding specifications. These templates have the pros and cons; details and a brief explanation are available on the templates' respective documentation pages (here and here ). You can either copy-and-paste the template into the page or type {{subst:airspec-imp}} for imperial (metric) units or {{subst:airspec-met}} for metric (imperial) units where the Specifications section would go. The blank template will be inserted when you save the page.

By convention, specifications are laid out as follows:

Specifications (Aircraft 1)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 1 ft (0.30 m)
  • Wingspan: 1 ft (0.30 m)
  • Height: 1 ft (0.30 m)
  • Wing area: 1 sq ft (0.093 m2) spread, 1 sq ft (0.093 m2) swept
  • Volume: 1 cu ft (0.028 m3)
  • Aspect ratio: 23
  • Airfoil: NACA 1204
  • Empty weight: 1 lb (0 kg)
  • Gross weight: 1 lb (0 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 1 lb (0 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 20
  • Useful lift: 1 lb (0.45 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × a asd, 1 hp (0.75 kW) dry, 1 lbf (0.0044 kN) with afterburner
  • Main rotor diameter: 1 ft (0.30 m)
  • Main rotor area: 1 sq ft (0.093 m2)
  • Propellers: single blade abc, 1 ft (0.30 m) diameter


  • Maximum speed: 1 mph (2 km/h; 1 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 1 mph (2 km/h; 1 kn)
  • Stall speed: 1 mph (2 km/h; 1 kn)
  • Never exceed speed: 1 mph (2 km/h; 1 kn)
  • Minimum control speed: 1 mph (2 km/h; 1 kn)
  • Range: 1 mi (1 nmi; 2 km)
  • Combat range: 1 mi (1 nmi; 2 km)
  • Ferry range: 1 mi (1 nmi; 2 km)
  • Service ceiling: 1 ft (0.30 m)
  • g limits: +-1
  • Roll rate: 1
  • Maximum glide ratio: 1
  • Rate of climb: 1 ft/min (0.0051 m/s)
  • Rate of sink: 1 ft/min (0.0051 m/s)
  • Lift-to-drag: 1 (same as glide ratio!)
  • Wing loading: 1 lb/sq ft (4.9 kg/m2)
  • Disk loading: 1 lb/sq ft (4.9 kg/m2)
  • Power/mass: 1
  • Thrust/weight: 1


  • Guns: 1
  • Bombs: 1


Notes: These specifications should relate to a specific variant of the aircraft, and be labeled accordingly. Usually this will be the most famous/noteworthy/numerous variant. Each article should only have one set of specifications and any model differences should be described in the variants or development sections. Multiple sets of specifications are to be avoided.

Please keep in mind that if a line is not applicable to a particular aircraft type, it should be omitted, for example "powerplant" for sailplanes. On the other hand, if data is applicable but you simply don't know it, please leave the line in place to remind others to fill it in. If you're using the template, simply leave the line blank rather than omitting it.
  • Capacity is for airliners and military transports
  • Power for piston engines, Thrust for jets and rockets. Of course, a few types will have both. Therefore, Thrust/weight will also apply only to jets and rocket aircraft, and Power/mass to propeller aircraft. Delete whatever's not appropriate.
  • Maximum speed may (and probably should) be given as a Mach number for supersonic aircraft.

See Wikipedia:WikiProject Aircraft/Units for a more detailed discussion of units.

Mach number

The Mach number in the specifications section gives the aircraft's maximum speed relative to the speed of sound (Mach 1.0). The speed of sound varies in the atmosphere based on the absolute temperature and therefore is different at each altitude as temperature varies with altitude. Each aircraft manufacturer will determine the maximum or limiting Mach number for their design for a specific altitude, temperature and aircraft configuration (such as afterburning or not). Because of this Mach numbers should not be calculated by editors from maximum speeds and inserted into the specs, as this is original research and introduces errors. Instead, they should only be entered when properly sourced from reliable data, along with the conditions that the Mach number applies. If the manufacturer or other reliable sources do not specify a Mach number for the design, then the parameter should be left blank and it will not appear in the article.

Engine specifications

For guidance on aircraft engine specification tables please see Wikipedia:WikiProject Aircraft/Engines/page content.


For general Wikipedia conventions on units, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers).

See Units page for conversion factors.

Aircraft unit costs

A helpful essay on understanding how different types of aircraft costs are reported, what they mean, and whether they should be used in an article or the {{infobox aircraft type}} is User:Askari Mark/Understanding aircraft unit costs. It is recommended that flyaway cost for military aircraft or retail price for commercial aircraft be used in the Infobox Aircraft since these are the most commonly available costs and thus provide readers with a means for “apples and apples” comparison of relative costs.

Operating costs

Information on aircraft operating costs should not be included in aircraft type articles, for the following reasons:

  • It violates Wikipedia is not a directory
  • Wikipedia is a world-wide project and US-centric, Euro-centric or other single country information should be avoided where possible. Providing good global operating costs is very difficult to do or source.
  • Reliable sources are very hard to find that give reasonable numbers for operating costs. Both aircraft manufacturers and aircraft type clubs have their own reasons for publishing numbers that are unrealistically low.
  • Operating costs vary greatly in different parts of the world, and even different parts of the same country, due to differences in fuel prices, maintenance costs and hangarage pricing. For example: In 2008, fuel costs increased rapidly as OPEC regulated oil production, meaning that almost any published information about operating costs would have shortly been out of date, even in as little as a week or two from publishing, damaging the reliability of the encyclopedia for verifiability.

Aircraft type clubs

In the past mentions of aircraft type clubs have been indiscriminantly inserted into aircraft type and manufacturer's articles and as a result the following guidelines apply:

  • Aircraft type clubs should only be mentioned in aircraft type or manufacturers' articles if they have their own Wikipedia articles or have made notable contributions to the aircraft or manufacturer's history (third party refs required)
  • Type clubs that have their own Wikipedia articles should be mentioned and linked from aircraft type and manufacturers' articles.
  • Type club websites, other than forum entries, are usually reliable sources (with the exception of costing information) and can be used as references for aircraft type and manufacturers' articles.
  • To avoid problems with aircraft type articles being used to promote clubs, type clubs should not be listed under external links. Either they are suitable as references or not mentioned.
  • Type clubs with their own Wikipedia articles may also be listed in the Aircraft type club article to better describe the club's roles.

Notable appearances in media

A "Popular culture" section should be avoided per Wikipedia:Avoid trivia sections in articles. Appearances in non-fiction, such as documentaries, may be included in aircraft type articles, but to avoid cluttering up aircraft type articles with lists of fictional appearances these have been moved to Aircraft in fiction instead. The inclusion standard for that article is:

Consensus Inclusion Criteria for Text in This Article

  • Real world aircraft (not fictional or made-up aircraft) that have significant roles in books, films, video games and as toys, provided reliable refs are supplied.
  • For fictional characters who assume the form of an aircraft - inclusion only as a one sentence summary and only for primary aircraft, not one-time configurations.
  • All media types included under article subheadings by aircraft type with at least one link to the article about the aircraft type itself.
  • The aircraft must have a significant role in the work and not simply being seen. Appearances in games are considered non-notable except for notable games dedicated to the specific aircraft.
  • Third party references are needed to show the notability of the appearance. Primary references, such as the book, game or movie itself, are not sufficient for inclusion.
  • Aircraft type articles that have entries here should have Notable appearances in media sections that simply refer to this article, in a manner like Sikorsky MH-53#Notable_appearances_in_media.

Fictional aircraft that resemble real-world aircraft should not be mentioned in aircraft type articles and instead should be listed in List of fictional aircraft.

See Template:NoMoreCruft for a subst'ed template to discourage crufters and inexperienced Wikipedians from adding pop culture triva.

See also

This section contains links to other aircraft-related material in Wikipedia. There is a template available, {{Aircontent}}, with parameters for the below sections as well as external links.

By convention, this section includes:

See also: Links to other related articles not already linked.
Related development: are those that this aircraft were developed from, or which were developed from it. Many aircraft will be stand-alone developments with no relatives, in which case this line should not be used.
e.g.: For the P-51 Mustang, "Related development" would include at least the F-82 Twin Mustang, CAC Kangaroo, Cavalier Mustang and Piper Enforcer.
Comparable aircraft: are those of similar role, era, and capability to this one. This will always be somewhat subjective, of course, but try to keep this as tight as possible. Again, some aircraft will be one-of-a-kind and this line will be inappropriate.
e.g.: aircraft comparable to the Boeing 707 include the Convair 880 and Douglas DC-8
Lists: relevant lists that this aircraft appears in
e.g. the Saab Viggen is listed in the List of military aircraft of Sweden


This section contains details of print references and/or external links to websites used in the article. Wikipedia prefers the APA format, so that's what we should use as well (see here for a comprehensive example set, and here for a list of templates). To integrate your references into the article, please use the reference tags. Examples of citations:

In the American Psychiatric Assocition (APA) style:

Book source
Lincoln, Abraham; Grant, U. S.; & Davis, Jefferson (1861). Resolving Family Differences Peacefully (3rd ed.). Gettysburg: Printing Press. ISBN 0-12-345678-9.
Brandybuck, Meriadoc. (1955). "Herb-lore of the Shire". Journal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry 10 (2), 234–351.
Newspaper/Magazine articles
Blair, Eric Arthur (August 29, 1949). "Looking forward to a bright tomorrow". New English Weekly, p. 57.
Gates, Bill & Ballmer, Steve (1998). "The Big Open-source Advocacy Homepage". Retrieved August 5, 2003.
Other Wikipedias
Citau les fonts from the Catalan-language Wikipedia. Retrieved: 27 December 2004.
Company press releases
Siemens AG (July 13, 1999). Shell and Siemens to develop emission-free fuel cell power plant. Press Release.

also in the Modern Language Association style:

Lincoln, Abraham, U.S. Grant and Jefferson Davis. Resolving Family Differences Peacefully (3rd ed.). Gettysburg: Printing Press, 1861. ISBN 0-12-345678-9.
Brandybuck, Meriadoc. "Herb-lore of the Shire". Journal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry 10 (2), 1955, pp. 234–351.
Newspaper/Magazine articles
Blair, Eric Arthur. "Looking forward to a bright tomorrow". New English Weekly August 29, 1949, p. 57.
Gates, Bill and Steve Ballmer. "Halloween". The Big Open-source Advocacy Homepage, 1998. Retrieved: 5 August 2003.
Other Wikipedias
Citau les fonts from the Catalan-language Wikipedia. Retrieved: December 27, 2004.
Company press releases
"Shell and Siemens to develop emission-free fuel cell power plant". Siemens AG Press Release, July 13, 1999.

There are also templates that allow the automatic formatting of references based on the information you have available; for websites, use {{cite web | }}, and for books, use {{cite book | }}. You are not required to use citation templates.

Further reading

This section (when used) contains a list of recommended books, articles, or other publications that have not been used as sources and may provide useful background or further information.

External links

This section contains links to external websites that were not reference material for the article, such as image sites. External links should summarize the website’s contents, and indicate why the website is relevant to the article. For further details see Wikipedia:External links.


Usually, we include a few navboxes to tie together aircraft by the same manufacturer or designated under the same sequence.


Aircraft are categorised primarily by their nationality, role, and era, for example Category:British airliners 1960–1969. A number of secondary categories also exist that link together aircraft with certain noteworthy features, such as Category:Variable-geometry-wing aircraft. See Wikipedia:WikiProject Aircraft/Categories for a full description of the Category system.

Hints, tips, and finishing touches

Remember wherever possible to link the powerplants and weapons, preferably in the article, but in the table if not mentioned in the text.

For some information on the inclusion of registrations/tail numbers/serials in aircraft articles refer to Registrations.

Please consider creating sub-articles if the content of any one section becomes too large. Sub articles should use a related title for example Foo accidents and incidents or Foo variants where Foo is the parent article title and the suffix is the section title. Create a Template:Main link from the parent article. Also note that if the content is a list it may be better to use List of Foo operators.

When you're done, please make sure to add your new article to list of aircraft, new powerplants to list of aircraft engines, and new weapons to the list of aircraft weapons. (Then, above them, there's also list of aircraft manufacturers and list of aircraft engine manufacturers and list of aviation topics,...)

Creating a new aircraft page

Enter the aircraft article you wish to create and all the elements of the layout will be automatically created:


2. After you create a new page, please add it to Wikipedia:New articles (Aircraft)

Finally, remember that you're in no way obliged to follow all, or even any, of these guidelines to contribute an article.