This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

We’ve all looked up at the sky and marveled at the amazing machines that are airplanes. In this guide, you’ll find out exactly how planes are built.

Next time you go to the airport, I implore you to really look at the airplanes all around. The sheer size of them. How incredible they are. The fact that these giant metal machines can take us into the skies and fly us around the world. If you’ve already done that, I’d be willing to bet that you’ve wondered how planes are built at some point, right?

Airplanes are built in a four step process. Before anything else, engineers must plan and design the airplane. Next, computer simulations using CAD software are performed to test the designs. Then, the different parts of the airplane are constructed. Finally, the pieces are assembled together.

Although we may be just a little bit biased towards all things aviation, I think we can all agree that airplanes are amazing. I know that I’ve personally been awestruck by them since I was a kid, and that has drawn me to pursue aviation as a passion. In this article, I hope to share some of my passion for planes and aviation with you by giving you a complete guide on how airplanes are built.

Here at SkyTough, we strive to provide our readers with only the best aviation content that they’ll find on the web. That way, when you’re finished reading this article, you’ll know exactly how planes are built and you won’t have to keep searching the web to find the answer. To do this, we research every topic extensively and combine those findings with our own knowledge and experience and the expertise of others in this great industry.

Table of contents


How Are Planes Built?

I wish I had unlimited time and space to really dive into the details on how planes are built, because the process is undoubtedly something to marvel out. The intricate details of each phase, all the different parts and pieces that go together. And, of course, how all those parts and pieces go together. The way that planes are built and the fact that they fly thousands of feet in the air blows my mind to this day.

But unfortunately, you’d be here for days reading this article if I were to really dive into the nitty-gritty details. So instead, I’m going to give you a high-level overview of what’s involved in the construction of airplanes, which consists of four main steps. These include planning & design, computer simulations, construction of the parts, and assembly.

Let’s get into the fun stuff.

Planning And Designing Airplanes

The first step in the process of building an airplane is of course to begin planning and designing the airplane. If the plane in question is a type of plane that’s already been designed and built over the years, then this may not be necessary. But in order for new airplanes to be built and for the innovation of aviation to continue, new planes need to be designed regularly. Here’s what’s involved.

This step can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and it’s done by aircraft designers who are experts in their field. During this phase, they will determine the shape and size of the plane, as well as how it will be powered, and how it will steer. This initial design helps to ensure that once the airplane is built it can successfully accomplish its mission – whether this means transporting people or goods from one place to another or providing a service like fighting fires by air.

Once the aircraft designers have finalized their designs for an aircraft’s structure, they pass the plans on to the engineers. The engineers are the next group of professionals who get involved in the process of building an airplane. They take the designs created by the aircraft designers and figure out how to make them a reality.

This includes figuring out things like how much weight each part of the plane can hold, what materials should be used for each part of the plane, and how everything should be connected together. How long this process takes will depend on what type of aircraft is being built, but it’s not uncommon for engineers to spend years working out all these details before any parts are even ordered or manufactured.

How Long Does It Take To Design An Airplane?

The design process for an airplane takes roughly six years. The first phase of the project is to sketch out how you want it to look, where all the parts will fit together, and what it'll be able to do once you're finished with construction. Once your idea has been laid down on paper, then comes research about materials that are both lightweight and sturdy.

Six years might sound like quite a long time for an airplane design, but that’s simply because it is! But if you think about it, there really aren’t that many new and improved plane designs being released every year or anything like that. For the most part, many of the same planes that are in use today have been used for decades. So the initial time investment to design a reliable plane is well worth it in the end.

Computer Simulations Of Airplane Designs

In order to speed up (and accentuate) the design process, some aircraft designers will use computer simulations. This is where they create a three-dimensional model of the plane using software and then test how it would perform in different conditions. After all, it’s a heck of a lot easier to plug some information and numbers into a simulation than to test even a scale model of the real thing.

For example, they can simulate what happens when the plane encounters turbulence or how it would handle if it were to make a hard landing. These simulations can be used to test how fast the airplane can fly and how high it can go. Things that can’t really be tested in the real world. The computer simulation results can then be used to adjust the design of the plane before any parts are manufactured.

Computer simulations can also be used to test how well the plane will operate once it is in use. For example, they can simulate how much energy the engines will produce and whether or not there is enough space for luggage under all of the seats. They could even determine if passengers would have room to store carry-on bags above their heads during take-off and landing.

Without computer simulations, airplane design would not only take significantly longer, but the engineers involved wouldn’t really get a full idea of exactly how the plane is going to react in different conditions. Simulations have sped up the airplane construction process significantly while also making the final product far more usable and giving those involved a more accurate picture of how it’s truly going to react.

How Long Does It Take To Test An Airplane Through Simulations?

Once the design of a new airplane is finalized, it must be tested through simulations before it can be approved for use by airlines. How long does this process take?

It usually takes about two years to test an airplane through simulations. However, that time frame may vary depending on how complex the plane is. For example, testing a brand new design can take longer than testing an update to an existing model. And as mentioned above, the majority of planes in use today are not actually brand new designs, but just the existing models with updated features and designs.

For the most part, the time it takes to run simulations is accounted for in the total design time, since the designers and engineers have to work side by side in order to create the perfect airplane and tweak design features as necessary based on simulation results. So design and simulation aren’t really two separate steps per se, but are rather performed concurrently to speed up the process while building upon each other.

Construction Of Airplane Parts

After the extensive planning, design, and simulation processes are over, we’re finally onto the actual construction of the airplane. Before the airplane itself can be built, all the separate parts and pieces need to be constructed. That then likely makes you wonder about all the various parts and pieces that are actually involved in an airplane.

The truth is, there are thousands and thousands of different parts of an airplane that need to work together with one another in order to actually fly. With how intricate flight is, it’s a miracle how planes fly in the first place, but none of that would be possible without the careful construction process. Here’s what’s involved.

What Are The Parts Of An Airplane?

The parts of an airplane are all the individual pieces that come together to form a whole. On their own, they have no real use or function besides being small parts in what makes up the bigger picture. But combined with each other and fitted properly, these separate components work together to create the final product which is an actual plane that can fly through the air.

There are all sorts of different parts that go into an airplane, but some of the more notable ones are the wings, the fuselage, the tail, and the engines. Each one has a specific purpose and is integral in making the airplane work as it should.

What Do The Wings Do?

The wings are probably one of the most well-known airplane parts. They're the big, curved pieces that stick out from the side of the plane and are responsible for generating lift. This lift helps keep the plane in the air and flying through the sky. The more surface area that a wing has, the more lift it can generate, which is why they tend to be so large on commercial airplanes.

What Is The Fuselage?

The fuselage is the main body of the plane and holds all of the other parts in place. It's typically cylindrical in shape and is made up of a bunch of different panels that are put together like a puzzle. This is one of the most important parts of the plane because it's responsible for keeping everything else together.

What Is The Tail?

The tail is the back end of the airplane and is mainly used to help steer the plane. It has a bunch of different parts including the rudder, which helps control how the plane moves, and the elevators, which are responsible for making the plane go up or down. Without the tail, a pilot would pretty much have no control over the plane.

What Are The Engines?

As you likely know, the engines are what provide the power that actually enables the airplanes to fly in the first place. Without getting too far into the details about airplane engines, let’s just suffice it to say that they are big and extremely powerful. On most commercial airplanes, they can still continue flying even if one engine goes down, which is a testament to just how powerful these engines truly are.

How Long Does It Take To Make All The Airplane Parts?

Depending on the complexity of the parts and how they’re manufactured, construction of the parts of an airplane can be one of the longest steps in the process. That said, as long as there are suitable manufacturing processes in place that can handle the parts needed, it shouldn’t take anywhere close to as long as the potential 6-year long design process mentioned above.

On average, it takes around one to two years to build and/or acquire all of the different parts of an airplane. This includes everything from ground-up parts construction as well as putting together the tens of thousands of smaller parts — like nuts, bolts, rivets, etc. — to form some of the major systems of the airplane.

But don’t worry, once all of the parts are done being built, the plane is almost ready to go, even if it’s in a bunch of different pieces!

Assembling The Parts Of The Airplane

When planes are first manufactured they're built in pieces and then put together like a puzzle. The majority of the parts come pre-made to help cut costs and save time but because each part has its own unique size that needs to be fit together, it can't just be thrown together willy-nilly. There's a lot of precision and planning that goes into assembling an airplane so that everything fits correctly and works as it should.

First, the parts are brought from the factory to the airport. How quickly this happens can vary depending on how large and heavy the plane is as well as what type of transportation is being used but it usually takes about a day or two for everything to be moved into place. Once all of the pieces have been delivered then they're next organized by part type in what's called an aircraft hangar.

The next step is to start the assembly process and this is done by a team of workers who are specially trained in putting planes together. The entire process can take anywhere from two weeks to a month, depending on the size and complexity of the plane. The largest section that's assembled first is the body of the plane and it's made up of several smaller parts that need to be fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Once the body is complete, the wings are attached and then finally the tail. After all of these main sections have been put together, the workers install all of the engines, landing gear, and other smaller parts. The last step in the assembly process is to test everything out. The plane then goes through rigorous testing to see how well it works and if any repairs need to be made before it's ready for its first flight.

How Long Does It Take To Assemble An Airplane?

Although the idea of assembling a giant, expensive, and heavy metal jigsaw puzzle might seem like a daunting task, it’s actually the fastest step of the entire plane building process. As long as everything has been thoroughly planned and designed before being constructed with precise tolerances, assembly should be a much shorter step than any of the other parts of the process.

It varies depending on the size and complexity of the plane but it can take anywhere from two weeks to a month. The larger and more complex planes tend to take longer because there are more parts that need to be put together. It also takes much longer if they're working with newer technology and the assembly process requires even more precision than it would otherwise with a well-known design and assembly process.

How Many Planes Are Built Per Year?

In the United States, more than 11,000 planes are built each year. But it isn’t like every plane in use is suddenly replaced every year. After all, these planes cost millions and millions of dollars to produce from start to finish, so airlines do everything they can to get as much life out of the aircraft as possible.

As of today, there are about 19,000 planes in the world that have an average age above 20 years old. The Boeing 747 is responsible for nearly half of these airplanes is in the process of being retired. It has been around since 1970 but still remains one of the top-selling large passenger jets on the market today.

While 11,000 planes being built per year is certainly a lot, you have to remember that each individual plane doesn’t have to go through this process from the beginning. As noted, the Boeing 747, for example, has been around since 1970 and is still being used today. So every Boeing 747 that’s built and/or used does not have to start from scratch with a new design.

In fact, the design process is very rarely used, but it’s worth including since building a new plane from the ground up certainly requires it. But for the vast, vast majority of planes that are built, design is not needed. Just tweaks and improvements here and there. That’s why more than 10,000 planes can be built per year in this country alone.

What Company Builds The Most Airplanes Every Year?

The majority of these planes are manufactured by Boeing. They have been building planes for almost 100 years and currently have a backlog of more than 5000 orders. Airbus is in second place with about 1600 planes built each year. The remaining manufacturers build significantly fewer planes each year.

So even though you might encounter some of these other brands while flying, I’d be willing to bet that way more often than not, you’re flying on a Boeing-built airplane or an Airbus-built airplane. This isn’t limited to just the United States either. Boeing and Airbus planes are used worldwide by pretty much all of the major airlines in existence.

That said, if you decide to become a commercial pilot, chances are high that you’ll learn to fly planes from these two manufacturers. And even though commercial pilots can’t fly every model of plane that’s out there, knowing how to fly the most common planes from Airbus and Boeing will go a long way towards a successful career as a pilot, full of perks and benefits from start to finish.

How Much Does It Cost To Build Or Purchase A Commercial Airliner?

A commercial airplane is generally measured in terms of seating capacity. The larger the aircraft, the more it costs to manufacture and purchase an airplane. The average cost for a small commercial airplane that seats 50 to 79 passengers is estimated to be $50 million. The larger the plane, the more expensive it becomes with bigger models from Boeing and Airbus costing upwards of $442 million.

Airbus and Boeing are the two main manufacturers of commercial airplanes in the world. They both have a variety of models that range from small, medium, large and extra-large aircrafts. In terms of price tags, Airbus offers cheaper planes than Boeing does. However, when it comes to orders (the number of planes ordered), Boeing has taken more orders than Airbus this year.

So what affects the final price tag? Manufacturing costs account for around 60% of the total expense while purchasing and licensing fees make up the remaining 40%. After all, Boeing and Airbus aren’t going to be eating the costs of manufacturing and losing money on their business. Instead, these companies will pass the costs of manufacturing onto the customer, i.e. the various airlines around the world.

But if you want to know the exact price tag for a specific commercial airplane model and seating capacity, contact manufacturers Airbus or Boeing directly. They can give a more accurate quote based on your specifications. The prices also differ depending on the region you're in. For example, an Airbus A320 would be cheaper in Europe than it would be in North America.

In conclusion, the cost of a commercial airplane varies depending on its size, model and manufacturer. But as a general estimate, you can expect to pay around $50 million for a small plane that seats 50 to 79 passengers.

Can I Build My Own Airplane?

Many people have wondered if they can build their own airplane. The answer is, you can! But it's not as easy as one might think. There are many different parts that go into an airplane, and each step of the assembly process is critical for a plane to fly safely. Let's take a closer look at how smaller planes are built.

The first step in building a plane is acquiring the parts. There are many different parts suppliers out there, and each one has its own specialty. For example, one company might specialize in supplying fuselages, while another specializes in supplying engines. It's important to find the right supplier for each part of the airplane.

Once all the parts are acquired, the next step is to assemble them. This can be done in a factory or at home, depending on your level of expertise. The most important part of the assembly process is making sure that each part is attached correctly and fits together properly. If one part is out of place, it could cause the entire plane to crash.

Finally, the plane must be tested to make sure it is safe for flight. This process can take several weeks or even months, and includes a series of tests both on the ground and in the air. If everything checks out, the plane is ready for takeoff!

So how long does it take to build a plane? The answer varies depending on the type of plane and the level of expertise of the builder. However, on average it takes about a year to build a small plane from scratch. This can be sped up even faster if you buy a kit plane and go that route, no matter if you have a factory assemble it or do it yourself.

The great thing about kit planes is that they come with pretty much everything you need. At least in most cases, the kits will come with everything needed to build the barebones of the plane, even though you might need to supply the engine or instrument panel separately. But having all the parts designed to fit perfectly together like a big puzzle makes the process much simpler than starting with nothing.

Some of the best kit planes out there are different types of bush planes, which will enable you to fly into some areas that you can’t get to with any other type of plane. At least once you’re an experienced bush pilot that’s capable of landing an aircraft on different types of terrain. But that’s a different article for a different day!

How Much Does It Cost To Build Your Own Plane?

Building your own plane can be a daunting task. Not only do you need the knowledge and skills to build a plane, but you also need the proper tools and materials. And if that's not enough, building your own airplane can be quite expensive. In some cases, it may be advantageous to find and purchase an affordable airplane on your own that’s ready to go.

So how much does it cost to build your own plane?

The price of building your own aircraft will vary depending on the type of aircraft you choose to build, as well as the level of complexity involved in its construction. But on average, expect to spend between $20,000 and $50,000 on parts and materials alone. Of course, this doesn't include the cost of labor - which can add another several thousand dollars to the total price tag.

So is it worth it?

That depends on your level of aviation expertise and how much you're willing to spend. If you're a novice pilot with little experience in aircraft construction, it might be best to leave the plane building to the professionals. But if you're an experienced aviator with the know-how and tools required to build your own aircraft, then go for it! Just be prepared for a challenging — and expensive — project.

Planes are an essential part of modern life, and it's fascinating to see how they are built. Next time you're on a flight, take a closer look at the plane and think about all the work that went into making it fly. And if you’re able to fly a plane you built from scratch, then you’ll appreciate it that much more every time you take to the skies.