Spotting 4-Engine Jet Airliners


Does the Airliner Have Four Engines?

If the airliner has four engines, two under each wing, it must be a Boeing 747, Airbus A340 or Airbus A380.

It could also be the giant Antonov 124-100 Ruslan, a heavy lifter intended for the transportation of heavy and oversized cargo and various special-purpose vehicles. A similar cargo aircraft is the Antonov 225 Mriya, with six engines and a massive split tail structure.

If it is a smaller, regional type jet, it is probably a BAe 146/Avro RJ.

Older jets such as the Boeing 707, Convair 880/990, and Douglas DC-8 also were powered by four engines, but aren't regularly spotted today. See more photographs of older jet airliners.

The wide-body Boeing 747-400 is an easy spot with its bulbous front fuselage, four engines under the wings, one full deck the length of the fuselage, and one partial deck on the front.
See more Boeing 747 photographs and spotting tips
Boeing 747 spotting guide

The Airbus A340 is a wide-body airliner, and features four engines and three sets of main landing gears, one in the middle of the underside of the fuselage
See more Airbus 340 photographs and spotting tips


The Airbus A380 is also an easy spot, with its four engines, distinctive bulbous nose, and two passenger decks extending the length of the fuselage.
See more Airbus 380 photographs and spotting tips
The Airbus A380 is also an easy spot, four engines, with its two passenger decks extending the length of the fuselage.

Antonov 124-100 Ruslan, four engines under the wings
(photo courtesy of the Antonov Company)
Antonov 124-100 Ruslan, four engines under the wing

Antonov An-225 Mriya, six engines under the wings, split tail
(photo courtesy of the Antonov Company)
Antonov AN-225 Mriya

Shown below is a spotting guide comparing the Boeing 747-8F to the Antonov An-124-100, both wide-body jet freighters with four engines. Also shown is the similar designed Lockheed C-5 Galaxy.
Spotting guide comparing the Boeing 747-8F to the Antonov AN-124-100, both wide-body jet freighters with four engines

 

Another Four-Engine Airliner: BAe-146/Avro RJ 

Another 4-engine under-the-wing airliner designed for short-haul and regional air routes, and still in service, is the BAe-146 / Avro RJ manufactured by British Aerospace. Its design includes a high-wing cantilever monoplane with a T-tail. Because of its quiet operation, it is sometimes known as the "Whisperjet". A total of 387 of the aircraft were built. Shown below is a Avro RJ85 in Lufthansa livery.
Lufthansa Avro RJ85

 

The Comet: A Four-Engine Vintage Airliner

Another early four-engine jetliner was the de Havilland DH 106 Comet,  the world's first production commercial jet airliner. The Comet was developed and manufactured by de Havilland, and first flew on in July of 1949. It featured an aerodynamically clean design with four de Havilland Ghost turbojet engines buried in the wings, a pressurised fuselage, and large square windows.

A total of 114 Comets were built. Since retirement of the Comet, only three early-generation airframes have survived, all in museum collections. So don't expect to spot one on the tarmac or in the air anytime soon!

The Four-Engine Russian Airliner

Another early four-engine jetliner was the Ilyushin Il-62 built in Russia. A total of 292 were produced. Two engines were mounted on each side at the rear of the fuselage.

It was similar in design to the Vickers VC-10, another early rear quad-engine jetliner.