All posts in: Aircraft Templates
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 side view

I’m actually really glad that I spent the last week or so working on this MD-11 template, because it has reminded me just how much I’ve always liked this big McDonnell Douglas three-holer.

I’m pretty sure that it all started way back in the 1980s with the DC-10, because I vividly remember drawing pictures of them during class and getting in trouble for it. It was totally worth it though, because drawing was the only thing that could hold my attention and it was also a perfect way to let my crazy imagination run loose. I occasionally added missiles and machine guns to the bottom of the wings, and seriously considered writing McDonnell Douglas a letter to propose the idea of a top-secret fighter version. Back then, I was totally convinced that was a brilliant idea. But now, 30 years later, I’m starting to think my obsession with the A-Team and Blue Thunder on TV greatly distorted my perception of reality. Wasn’t 1980’s television awesome?

Interestingly enough, the DC-10 was the very first aircraft template I created way back in 2012. I can’t quite recall exactly why I wanted to start illustrating airplanes, but starting with the DC-10 was the obvious choice since it was one of my all-time favorites and I thought it would be fun to see if I could do it. I did it of course, and the rest is history. Unfortunately, since it was my first ever aircraft template, there is a lot that is wrong with it and a big part of me has been wanting to go back and redo the entire thing to bring it up to my current standards. It’s been on my mind for a while now, but it all came to a head last week when I tried to base this MD-11 template on that old illustration. It wasn’t until I started modifying that old DC-10 that I realized that there was too much wrong with it and I was going to have to start over from scratch.

MD-11 blueprint

Side profile line drawing of a McDonnell Douglas MD-11

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the MD-11, it was essentially the second-generation version of the DC-10. Although it shares a vast majority of structural components from that old bird, there are actually some very significant visual differences which essentially made it an all new design:

  • The fuselage was lengthened by 18 ft 7 in (5.66 m) over the DC-10-30
  • It has an all new screwdriver-style tail cone
  • The wingspan was increased by 4 ft 2 in (1.27 m) over the DC-10-30
  • Winglets were added to the wings
  • The airfoils under the wings are slightly modified
  • It features all new engines (General Electric or Pratt & Whitney)
  • The new engine options necessitated a slight redesign of the number two engine housing attached to the vertical stabilizer. This actually started with the DC-10-40, but it carries over to the MD-11 as well.

There are also a huge number of other little minor visual differences, such as the size and location of the smaller aerodynamic fins on the top and the bottom of the fuselage. Access panels and sensors (such a static ports) are also quite different compared to all DC-10 versions. The landing gear is slightly different as well but visually it’s almost the same.

Anyway, thanks all of you out there who suggested the MD-11 as my next template! I had a lot of fun with it, even though I had to build it from scratch (something that I wasn’t planning on doing). FYI, there will be a slight two-week pause on my airliner template production, as I’m going to be traveling over the next week which is going to cause a backlog on all the projects that I’ve got going on at the moment. As of right now, I’m tempted to do the A330NEO next – but I’ve got a long list of illustrations that I need to do so I’m not really sure which one it’s going to be yet…

De Havilland DHC-8-300 side view

Here’s another one that I’ve been getting a lot of requests for recently. It never would have occurred to me that the DHC-8-300 (also known as the Q300) would be as popular as it is today considering that it was launched into service way back in 1989. That’s nearly 30 years of continued operation, and from what I hear, the used market for these things is still insanely strong and competitive. As a car guy, that seems so backwards and odd to me – most used cars (with the exception of some special editions) become generally worthless after 10 years.

It was back in January that I illustrated the smaller version of this aircraft (the DHC-8-200), and to be honest I wasn’t really expecting to do the -300 so soon. It just so happened that one of my clients needed an illustration of a -300 for a proposal he was putting together, so It was relatively easy for me to modify that other template and get him the illustrations he needed. I know a lot of you have been asking for other larger aircraft such as the MD-11 and A330NEO, and don’t worry – those are both currently on my drawing board right now and I hope to have them done relatively soon. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if there’s a particular type what you need, paying me to do it will make it happen a lot faster. Just contact me and I can arrange to make it happen!

Dash 8 Q300 blueprint

Side profile line drawing of a De Havilland DHC-8-300

For those of you not familiar with Dash 8 lineup, the –300 is a stretched version of the -200. It’s 3.3m (or 11.3ft) longer to be exact, and 6.83m (22.4ft) shorter than the -400. It also happens to be powered by the same Pratt & Whitney PW123 engines are on the -200. And since I’m being nerdy and talking numbers, the –300 carries 52 to 56 passengers, whereas the –200 carries 37 to 39. But what about the –400 you ask? Well, that varies based on which sub type you’re talking about. In a nutshell, the Q400 will carry anywhere from 68 to 78 passengers depending on configuration. As I said before, the Dash 8 family is a colossal and confusing mess of variants and sub types that are difficult to keep track of. If it wasn’t for Wikipedia, I’d have no way to keep it all straight.

OK, so who wants to see a visual comparison between the –200, –300, –400? I know a lot of you really enjoyed visual comparison I did of the Embraer ERJ family of aircraft in my last post, so now that I have three variants of the Dash 8 completed, here’s a graphic depicting the visual differences of the three that I have already illustrated:

Visual comparison between the Dash 8 -200, -300, and -400

Visual comparison between the Dash 8 -200, -300, and -400

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but to think that the Q400 is…well…kind of ugly. I have a lot of respect for it as a capable and competitive commercial airliner of course, but it looks like they were all doing shots of whiskey one afternoon in the design studio and stretched it a little bit too far on a stupid dare. It’s kind of like what Boeing is doing with the 737 series right now. The MAX 8 is an amazing piece of machinery, but the MAX 10 is pushing it just a little bit too far and beyond the scope of what the original 737 was intended to be. That’s just my opinion anyway.

The next template is one that I know a lot of you are going to like. Finally, after all these years, I’m wrapping up the MD-11! I’m pretty excited about that one as well, because I’ve always had a thing for those big McDonnell Douglas tri jets, and I’ve been having a lot of fun working on the illustrations. Stay tuned, because it’s coming soon!

ERJ-135 side view all white

Well, I guess I have to stop kicking the can down the road and just get this over with. I actually completed this ERJ-135 blank illustration template about a week and a half ago, but the problem is that I’ve pretty much run out of things to say about the ERJ family of aircraft since I’ve said so much about the -145XR, -145, and the -140 already. I was already scraping the bottom of the literary barrel when I wrote the post about the -140, so you can imagine how blank my mind is right about now as I try to write this post about the smallest Embraer regional jet of them all. What else is there to say about this family of aircraft that I haven’t said already?

Well, for starters the ERJ-135 is a 37-seat aircraft, which is noticeably smaller than the ERJ-140. In my opinion, it doesn’t look all that much different than it’s bigger brother, and I’m not even sure that I would be able to tell the difference between the two if I wasn’t able to see them together side-by-side. It takes a courageous AvGeek to admit something like that, but since I’m feeling brave (and still struggling for things to say) you should probably also know that I still have a hard time discerning between an A320 and an A321 if I can’t see them together to make a direct comparison. Do I need to turn in my AvGeek card for admitting something like that? Gee, I really hope not. I quite like being an airline and aviation nerd thank you very much.

Now that I’ve created blank illustration templates for this entire family of aircraft, it’s time to do a direct visual comparison between them all:

Visual differences between the ERJ family of aircraft

Visual differences between the entire ERJ family of aircraft (ERJ-145XR, ERJ-145, ERJ-140, and ERJ-135)

Which one is your favorite? I think I would have to go with the big daddy of them all: the ERJ-145XR. It’s not even a fair comparison if I’m being honest, because any aircraft with large winglets strapped to it’s wings will always look better than an aircraft without them (by default). That’s my opinion anyway, and it’s a good thing that the XR has winglets because if any of the smaller versions did it would be insanely hard for me to pick a winner.

ERJ-135 blueprint line drawing

Side profile line drawing of an Embraer 135 regional jet

Thankfully, this post wraps up what has been a long and grueling series of posts about the ERJ family of aircraft, and I don’t blame you if you’re sick and tired of these posts just as much as I am. It’s not like I have anything against these airplanes, but I made a commitment to illustrate them all, and I never would’ve guessed how much of a challenge that would be for my painfully short attention span. Now that I’ve reached the end of the series, I’m pretty much over it and I’m chomping at the bit to get on to the next batch of templates. Truthfully, I was over it way back with the -145 so it was a real struggle to get this -135 posted. But there. I did it!

Next up will be the DHC-8-300, which wrangled its way into my schedule because I needed it for a client rendering that I was recently working on. The good news is that it’s already complete, and I’ll get it posted as soon as I think of some things to say about it…

ERJ-140 side view all white

Yeah, the process of completing my ERJ templates is going a bit slower than I had originally planned, but the good news is that I am more than halfway done now with the completion of this ERJ-140. For those that don’t know, the ERJ-140 is a 44-seat version of the 50-seat ERJ-145. If you’re like me and you need pictures to help visualize the differences, check this out:

ERJ-145XR, ERJ-145, and ERJ-140 comparison

Visual differences between ERJ-145XR, ERJ-145, and ERJ-140

Pretty neat, huh? Unfortunately, as interesting as that diagram may be, it reveals the fact that there really aren’t that many differences between the -145 and -140. As a matter fact, there aren’t any differences other than fuselage length – which isn’t helping my case any when I try to defend myself for taking so long to create all of these templates.

The honest truth is that this series of templates is probably one of the easiest I’ve done in a long time, for the simple fact that there aren’t any major visual differences between each variant. The vertical stabilizers, wings, landing gear, and engines are all the same (for the most part). In comparison, the primary competitor to this aircraft (the Canadair Regional Jet) is all over the place when it comes to consistency between it’s variants. Check out my template of the CRJ-200, then compare it against the CRJ-900 and you’ll see that the only thing similar between those two types is pretty much the fuselage and a handful of minor details.

ERJ-140 side view blueprint

Side profile line drawing of a Embraer 140 regional jet

Thinking back on it, it’s probably a really good thing that this series of templates has been so easy to make. I probably would’ve skipped over the -140 altogether if it weren’t for the fact that it was just a simple shortening of the fuselage. All the research that I did prior to starting this one suggested that the -140 is the least popular variant of the entire ERJ family, and it may not even have been worth creating a template at all. I couldn’t find the exact numbers to prove just how unpopular it is, but a simple search of the airliners.net photo database revealed how frustrating it is to find good reference material for this particular aircraft. There are tons and tons of pictures of -145‘s and -135’s, but the -140 is the proverbial needle in the haystack. Lucky for you, my sick and twisted determination to finish what I start kept me going all the way through to find the reference material I needed.

On a sidenote, I’m writing this post at the Radisson Blu hotel at Zürich airport (ZRH), overlooking the runways from my room, and I’ve been watching a steady stream of ERJ-145 business jets take off and land over the past several hours. I had no idea they were so popular here, and it’s weird to see so many of them in one place! I guess what they say about Switzerland being one of the wealthiest nations in the world is actually true. If that didn’t convince me, the handful of Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s pulling up to the terminal would have done it for sure. There’s money here. And a lot of it.

Ok then, I’m only one template away now from finishing up this ERJ family of aircraft. The last and final one (the ERJ-135) is next!

ERJ-145 side view drawing

Hold on a second! Before you dash on over to the Contact page and skewer me over the fact that I already made a post about my ERJ-145 templates (just last week!), you need to know that this is actually something completely different. Well, not totally different, but different enough to warrant it’s own post.

My last post was about the ERJ-145XR. This post is about the ERJ-145. Two completely different kinds of aircraft! I’m not sure if everybody would agree with me on that, but I think we can all agree that there are enough differences between the two which requires separate templates. Here, check out this graphic I made which shows the visual differences between the ERJ-145XR and the base model ERJ-145:

visual differences between ERJ-145XR and ERJ-145

The highlights in red are the visual differences between ERJ-145XR and ERJ-145 (base model).

XR stands for “extended range”, which means that there are some additional aerodynamic add-ons to the base model which helps facilitate higher fuel-efficiency for extended range operations. There are a ton of internal modifications of course, but since I am just an illustrator focused on the exterior of these airplanes, here’s the breakdown of what the XR has over the base model -145:

  • Winglets
  • A large horizontal aerodynamic fin on the underside of the aircraft between the wings
  • Vertical slats at the aft of the fuselage underneath the vertical stabilizer

I’m sure there are a ton of other tiny little differences as well, but those are the major items which helps airplane nerds like us quickly identify the differences between these two different aircraft types. And if I’m being honest, I think it’s this base model -145 which looks the best out of the entire ERJ family of aircraft. The XR looks too fancy with all of its flashy add on‘s (kind of like how people add a bunch of crazy shit to Honda Civic‘s thinking that it makes them look faster), while the -140 and -135 (both templates coming soon) look like victims of tragic knife accidents.

ERJ-145 base model side view blueprint

Side profile line drawing of a Embraer 145 regional jet (base model)

Perhaps another reason why this base model -145 is my favorite is because it was the launch type for this family of aircraft way back in 1995. It was designed to be the successor for the EMB-120 Brasília, and I was totally on board with it because of my hatred for riding in small turboprop aircraft such as that little 120. I vividly remember when these small regional jets started appearing on the scene, and for someone like me who was terrified of small turboprops, I couldn’t help to think that it was a glorious time to be a traveler. That feeling only lasted five years or so, until most every airline decided to use these tiny little jets for everything – even flights longer than three hours in length. As a passenger, that was downright torture! Regional jets were excellent replacements for the turboprops, but not as replacements for larger mainline aircraft such as the 737.

OK then, can you guess which templates are coming next? If you guessed the ERJ-140 and ERJ-135, you’re a smart cookie. I’m working on them both as I type this (well, not exactly as I’m typing) and I hope to have them posted to the blog very very soon…

ERJ-145XR side view

One of the most interesting things about doing all these airliner templates is the fact that I learn a lot about which aircraft are really popular (or not) in an indirect sort of way. Did you know that my Boeing 747–400 template is one of my least downloaded? And that the Airbus A320 is the most popular? It’s data like this which has convinced me that the rest of the world just doesn’t share my enthusiasm for large commercial aircraft, and it kind of bums me out a little bit. I would’ve thought for sure that the big stuff like the 747’s and A380s would be the runaway favorites, but it turns out that the little guys (such as narrowbody Airbuses and tiny regional jets) seem to be what everyone is clamoring for.

Was that the perfect segue into this post about my all-new ERJ-145 templates or what? This little Embraer has been near the top of my most-requested list for quite a while now, which is strange to me considering that I personally don’t see many of these here in the US much anymore. They used to run rampant here at SAN and up north at LAX, but they’ve all been replaced by the larger ERJ-175’s thanks in large part to Skywest and their aggressive fleet renewal program over the past few years. I know that ORD still sees quite a few of these things (both American and United still have a ton), but they definitely seem to be approaching the endangered species list at a ridiculously fast pace and it may not be long until they’re all gone for good.

ERJ-145XR line drawing side view

Side profile line drawing of a Embraer 145XR (Extended Range) regional jet

Regardless of how popular the ERJ-145 still is these days, I’m really glad to have a template created for it. Unfortunately, there are so many variants of this particular aircraft that I didn’t really know where to start once I realized that one template wasn’t going to cover everything. Because of that, I decided to start at the top of the food chain with the big daddy of them all: the ERJ-145XR – which is the extended range version of the largest model available in this family of aircraft.

The ERJ-145XR is a little different than the run-of-the-mill -145, sporting a pair of really cool-looking winglets and a smattering of other aerodynamic add-ons underneath and along the rear of the fuselage. As a matter fact, I didn’t even know that this model existed before I started doing research. I thought it looked pretty nice though, and since it was the most complicated version of them all, I figured that it would be the best one to start with so that I could work my way down to the other (smaller) variants using this illustration as a starting point. I don’t know why, but it’s always easier for me to downsize a template than it is to make one larger.

Even though the Embraer ERJ family of aircraft is quite extensive, there aren’t any significant differences between most of them other than fuselage length. Therefore, I should be able to crank through all of the other major variants at a very rapid pace now that I have this main illustration complete. Keep your eyes peeled for the standard -145 next, and then I’m going to tackle the -135 immediately after that. You’ll be happy to know that these are going to come very fast, and I hope to have everything uploaded here on the blog by the end of next week.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go sit in a corner for a while and listen to calming mediation music to fend off this anxiety I just inflicted on myself for promising a lot of illustrations by the end of next week…

boeing 757-200 tools royce engines side view

Sorry for the lack of an exciting update today, but I really needed to get my Boeing 757–200 template updated with Rolls Royce engines as soon as possible. You see, I create illustrations of all the aircraft that I fly on for my travel blog, and several weeks ago I flew on a American Airlines 757–200 from Phoenix to San Diego (a really great flight by the way). As you are probably aware, American Airlines 757s are all Rolls Royce powered (and I only had the Pratt & Whitney version illustrated), so this had to be done in order for me to keep up with my normal posting schedule over there. Sometimes I’m really starting to think that my blogs own me, and not the other way around…

Simply drawing a new engine and applying it to my existing 757 template is not as easy as it sounds. The problem was that I needed to find decent reference material which clearly showed all of the tiny little differences between the two versions of this aircraft. Considering that most of those details are under their wing and in the shadows, it’s never easy to find a single “Holy Grail” pic revealing everything. It usually involves scouring through hundreds of photos and picking out a handful of the best to compare with my existing illustration to figure out what the differences are.

It’s exactly like being six years old again and I’m struggling with one of those stupid books which are showing me two silly pictures and I have to figure out which one has the cat holding a hotdog and which one doesn’t. Well, at least I can say that my education paid off, right?

boeing 757-200 rolls royce engines side view blueprint

Side profile line drawing of a Boeing 757-200 with winglets and Rolls Royce engines

The complexities don’t end there either. In this particular case, I created that original 757 template three years ago, back when I was still learning how to do side view airliner templates and I didn’t necessarily have my technique refined and down pat as I do now. Therefore, as I’m working with those old templates, I start to notice little problems here and there that need fixing before I can proceed with the new engine integration. It always takes time to go back and redo portions of those old illustrations to get them up to snuff with my current level of quality, which is a good thing I guess considering how much of a perfectionist I am. I always want to make sure I’m giving you guys the highest quality that I can when it comes to my original source files.

boeing 757-200 rolls royce engines side view

Here’s the all white version without winglets

boeing 757-200 rolls royce engines side view blueprint

And the line drawing without winglets

By now you are probably asking yourself, “Scott, which version of the 757 do you think looks better? The Pratt & Whitney version, or the Rolls Royce version?” Okay, it’s probably more likely that this particular question never even crossed your mind, but I’m really itching to tell you which one I like the best – because I’m opinionated like that! The winner in my book is the Pratt & Whitney powered version, simply because I think the Rolls Royce engines look too small compared to the overall size of the airframe. What do you think?

For my next template, I’m thinking about doing something from scratch instead of making a small update to one of my existing templates such as I did with this one. I haven’t done any Russian aircraft yet other than the SSJ-100, and I know very little about commercial Russian aircraft in general, so I think that would be a lot of fun. But don’t get your hopes up! I haven’t even started anything yet, and I’ve got a week long vacation coming up soon, so my mind could change by the time I come back and get started again. It’s really anyone’s guess which aircraft is coming next…

White Boeing 727 side view

Before I begin, could you please give me a moment so that I can grab another tissue and wipe the tears of nostalgia from my eyes? It should only take a second or two, and you can pass the time browsing some of the other side view airliner templates in my ever-growing collection. The L-1011 is a neat one – I’d recommend giving that one a good look while I compose myself to write this blog post…

*sniffle*

OK, I’m ready now. I don’t know what it is about the 727 that brings on such strong feelings of nostalgia in me, but it does so in a very big way each and every time I see one of these things. My first ever flight was way back in the spring of 1982 on a Republic Airlines Boeing 727 from Detroit to Sarasota, and for an eight-year-old boy just starting to become fascinated with airplanes, it was a life-altering experience that I would never forget.

The funny thing was that one of my classmates was also flying to Florida that same week (it was spring break, and nearly all of Michigan migrates to Florida at that time), but he and his family were lucky to be flying a Northwest DC-10. I was so jealous of that, and I remember feeling disappointed that we were only going to be on a stupid little 727. But once we arrived at the airport and I saw that airplane sitting at the gate ready to take us to Florida, it was stimulation overload and I had the time of my life. It was an amazing flight!

The Boeing 727 is the airplane of my childhood. Just as the 737 is the most common airliner in existence today, the 727 was the workhorse of airline fleets worldwide and they were literally everywhere in the 1980’s. It seems that every single airport (big and small) had 727’s flowing in and out of them like water, and I specifically remember watching these airplanes fly low and slow over our house on approach into DTW. *sniff* I think I’m going to need another tissue…

boeing 727-200 blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of a Boeing 727-200

To this day, I consider the Boeing 727 to be one of the best aircraft designs ever – and that’s not just the nostalgia talking. To think that this thing was designed in the 1960s is just astounding considering that there were no computers back then to help figure out some of the aerodynamic complexities. It still looks as sleek and beautiful today as it did back then, and with slightly bigger engines it could easily pass as a modern-day airliner. The best part to me, by far, is that aggressively swept wing. The wings of the 727 are much more aggressive compared to what we are seeing on modern day aircraft, and it was truly a design way ahead of its time. I had a lot of fun illustrating this one, though I will admit that there were no surprises for me since this is my favorite aircraft, and I pretty much knew everything about it that there is to know (design wise at least – don’t you dare ask me about the technical stuff).

I’ve logged 12 flights on the 727 over the years, with my last one being November 26, 2000 from DEN to SAN on United Airlines. It’s amazing to think that the 727 lasted two more years beyond that at United, with the last one being retired in 2002. Even more amazing is the fact that at the time of this writing, there are still 56 of these aircraft in service today around the world. The 727 has had a really good run, and it will forever hold a place in my heart as the airplane that kicked my fascination with commercial aviation into high gear.

And that’s the end of this blog post, which is a good thing because…well…I’m out of tissues.

MD-90 side view all white

Ok you guys…what is it about the MD-90 that makes you all seem to want a template of it so badly? I mean, this was never really a very popular aircraft with the major airlines, and if it weren’t for Delta Airlines, every last one of them would’ve probably been chopped up and converted into beer cans by now. That can of Redbull sitting next to you on your desk? Yup, that would likely have started it’s life as a McDonnell Douglas MD-90 if it weren’t for Delta’s quirky habit of acquiring older aircraft which every other airline can’t seem to get rid of fast enough.

Let’s look at the numbers. According to Wikipedia, there were only 116 of these things built over the span of seven years (1993-2000), and at the time of this writing, Delta Airlines is the sole remaining operator. They’ve got 61 of these airplanes still in service, and that number is dwindling more and more with each passing year. Oddly enough, I’ve been getting requests to create side view templates of the MD-90 at the rate of roughly one per week for the past year and a half (mostly from different people but there have been a few repeats). If you’re good at math, you’ll know that that is roughly 75 requests for what is essentially an aircraft that was never very popular and is all but extinct. What gives?

Is it safe to assume that the MD-90 has a cult following that I didn’t know about? I’m a fairly regular reader of airliners.net, and I’m usually in tune with what’s going on in the world of commercial aviation, but I’m not seeing the fascination with this aircraft on the forums over there. Perhaps there really is a secret underground cult following of the MD-90, and if that’s the case, my only conclusion is that you guys aren’t vocal enough. Somebody needs to start a website called md90love.com or something to take advantage of this hugely untapped market. It sounds stupid, I know, but smelling a business opportunity here is the only thing that pops into my head when trying to decipher the data.

Anyway, on to the templates! I knew right from the beginning that this MD-90 illustration wouldn’t be all that much different from my MD-80 template, as they are basically the same aircraft differentiated by a few minor changes. The biggest change, of course, is that the MD-90 has much bigger and better looking engines then it’s predecessor. The V2500 engines give the MD-90 a really stout and tough looking appearance (especially from a front three-quarter view), which unfortunately makes the MD-80 look absolutely weak and pathetic in comparison. Maybe it’s just because I’m a guy, but judging an aircraft based on how big the engines are and how strong it looks is…well…such a guy thing to do. Size matters!

MD-90 blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of a McDonnell Douglas MD-90

Another difference which I didn’t know about is the fact that the MD-90 has the same squared-off vertical stabilizer as the Boeing 717. I had originally thought that it was Boeing who created that sharper vertical stabilizer, but it was actually McDonnell Douglas right before the merger. Oddly enough, that’s probably the most interesting tidbit of info that I learned from creating this template. There’s always something, and that’s what makes these templates so dang fun.

So there you have it. The MD-90 templates are now complete, which does make me feel pretty good for getting them done and out of the way. Not as good as realizing that it will stop the inflow of email and requests that I get for this aircraft though! I never could understand the fascination with this oddball aircraft, but I imagine these templates are going to make a lot of you happy. My sincere apologies for the long wait!

all white airbus a318 side view

Did you know that the Airbus A318 has a taller vertical stabilizer than the A319? And that there is a completely different engine option as well? I didn’t either until the evening I sat down to modify my A319 template into this cute little baby bus. The heartburn started heating up after just 30 seconds on Wikipedia, realizing that this one-evening hack job was going to take a lot longer than planned. I hate when that happens, especially when I’ve got so many other airliner templates on my to-do list.

And it wasn’t the taller vertical stabilizer and different engine option that made me reach for the Tums – it turns out that there are a lot of little differences in the engine coverings (for both the CFM56 and Pratt & Whitney options) compared to the A319, and it ended up being faster for me to redraw them from scratch rather than mess around trying to modify the other ones. Oh – and let’s not forget about the details in the engine connection to the wing as well. This ended up being one of those templates that seemed to get more and more complicated the deeper I got into it, and I was kind of regretting taking it on at first.

But you know what? Although it sounds like I’m complaining, the truth is that I’m actually pretty stoked that I learned that the A318 is a lot more than just an A319 with the ends chopped off. There is a lot more that went into the design and engineering of this aircraft than I originally thought, so it’s it’s kind of a shame that it was essentially a failure for Airbus (from a sales and marketing point of view). As a designer myself, I know exactly how demoralizing that can feel. Sometimes the projects I spend the most time on are the biggest failures. It happens, and all you can do is push it aside and move on to the next one.

Airbus A318 side view blueprint

A technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A318 with cfm56 engines – basically, the line drawing version of the illustration at the top of this post.

The Airbus A318 was produced from 2001 through 2013, with only four Airlines operating them at the time of this writing (Air France, Avianca Brasil, Avianca, and TAROM). They never gained traction in the US, and the only ones I ever saw buzzing about were here in Southern California. Frontier Airlines had a handful of them, and occasionally I’d see them operating between DEN and SAN. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to get a ride on one, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t missing much. I can’t imagine it being much more than a fat regional jet anyway, and I’m not a big fan of small airplanes.

On the other hand, the traveler in me is slightly bothered by the fact that this is an active aircraft in regularly scheduled service that is deeply established as an “endangered species” – and time is running out if I want to add the experience to my personal flight log. I’ve been wanting to take a trip to South America soon, so perhaps it would be wise to see if I can hitch a ride with Avianca. Just to say I did it.

airbus a318 side profile pratt & whitney engines

Here’s the all-white version with Pratt & Whitney engines

airbus a318 side profile pratt & whitney engines blueprint

Finally, the line drawing version with Pratt & Whitney engines

Anyway, it feels great to have finished these A318 templates, as that means that I now have the complete Airbus A320 family in my archives (all the way up to the latest and greatest NEO). I can’t help but to hope that these won’t be a flop like the real A318 though…

Next up is the McDonnell Douglas MD-90. A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that the only major visual differences between it and the MD-80 is a slightly lengthened fuselage and (of course) larger engines. As long as there are no surprises, I should be able to crank it out relatively quickly. I am traveling to China next week though, so there will be a slight pause in the action. In the meantime, feel free to tinker with any of my other templates while I’m away, and I’ll get that MD-90 wrapped up as soon as I return!