Air transportation service
A fixed-wing aircraft, commonly called airplane, is a heavier-than-air craft where movement of the air in relation to the wings is used to generate lift. The term is used to distinguish from rotary-wing aircraft, where the movement of the lift surfaces relative to the air generates lift. A gyroplane is both fixed-wing and rotary-wing. Fixed-wing aircraft range from small trainers and recreational aircraft to large airliners and military cargo aircraft.
Two things necessary for aircraft are air flow over the wings for lift and an area for landing. The majority of aircraft also need an airport with the infrastructure to receive maintenance, restocking, refueling and for the loading and unloading of crew, cargo and passengers. While the vast majority of aircraft land and take off on land, some are capable of take off and landing on ice, snow and calm water.
The aircraft is the second fastest method of transport, after the rocket. Commercial jets can reach up to 955 kilometres per hour (593 mph), single-engine aircraft 555 kilometres per hour (345 mph). Aviation is able to quickly transport people and limited amounts of cargo over longer distances, but incur high costs and energy use; for short distances or in inaccessible places helicopters can be used. As of April 28, 2009 The Guardian article notes that, "the WHO estimates that up to 500,000 people are on planes at any time.