What is EW in Aviation? (Empty Weight)

Empty Weight (EW), also known as the Basic Empty Weight (BEW), is a crucial term in aviation that refers to the weight of an aircraft when it is unloaded and does not include any payload, fuel, or occupants. It primarily consists of the structural components of the aircraft, including the airframe, engines, and other fixed equipment.

The Empty Weight of an aircraft plays a significant role in its overall performance and operation. It is essential for aircraft manufacturers, operators, and regulatory bodies to accurately determine and document this weight, as it impacts various aspects such as fuel consumption, range, payload capacity, and takeoff and landing performance.

The Components of Empty Weight

The Empty Weight of an aircraft is composed of several key components. Let’s take a closer look at each of them:

The Airframe

The airframe refers to the main structure of the aircraft, including the fuselage, wings, and empennage (tail assembly). It accounts for a significant portion of the Empty Weight of an aircraft.

The weight of the airframe depends on various factors, such as the materials used in its construction and the design of the aircraft. Modern aircraft are typically made of lightweight materials like aluminum alloys, composite materials, or a combination of both. These materials provide strength and durability while minimizing weight.

The Engines

The engines are another major component contributing to the Empty Weight of an aircraft. Each engine is carefully selected based on the aircraft’s performance requirements and is designed to provide the necessary thrust for flight.

Engine weight can vary depending on the type and model. For example, jet engines tend to be heavier than piston engines due to their more complex construction and additional components.

The Fixed Equipment

The fixed equipment refers to the essential systems and components that are permanently installed in the aircraft. This includes items such as avionics (navigation, communication, and other electronic systems), hydraulic systems, electrical systems, and safety equipment.

The weight of the fixed equipment can vary significantly depending on the size and complexity of the aircraft. Larger commercial aircraft will have more extensive and sophisticated avionics systems and additional safety equipment, resulting in a higher Empty Weight.

Calculating Empty Weight

Accurately determining the Empty Weight of an aircraft involves a detailed and precise calculation process. During the aircraft manufacturing process, the manufacturer typically conducts a thorough weighing procedure to establish the Empty Weight.

Various factors are taken into consideration when calculating the Empty Weight, including the weight of each individual component, the quantity of fuel onboard (if any), and the position of the center of gravity (CG).

To ensure accuracy, the weighing process is usually conducted in a controlled environment, such as a specialized weighing facility. The aircraft is placed on a set of calibrated scales, with each wheel positioned on a separate scale. The weight recorded from each scale is then combined to obtain the Empty Weight.

Updating Empty Weight

The Empty Weight of an aircraft can change over time due to various factors, such as modifications, repairs, or the addition of optional equipment. Whenever a significant change occurs, the Empty Weight needs to be recalculated and updated.

This process ensures that the aircraft’s weight and balance information remains accurate, which is vital for safe and efficient flight operations. Pilots rely on accurate weight and balance calculations to determine important parameters, such as takeoff and landing performance and fuel requirements.

The Importance of Empty Weight

The Empty Weight of an aircraft plays a crucial role in several aspects of aviation, including:

Aircraft Performance

The Empty Weight directly affects an aircraft’s performance characteristics. A lighter Empty Weight allows the aircraft to carry a higher payload, fly longer distances, and consume less fuel.

By accurately knowing the Empty Weight of an aircraft, pilots and flight planners can determine the maximum payload capacity and the fuel required for a specific flight. This information is vital for maintaining the safety and efficiency of the aircraft.

Weight and Balance

Proper weight and balance distribution is crucial for safe flight operations. The Empty Weight provides a baseline reference for determining the aircraft’s center of gravity (CG).

The center of gravity is the point at which the aircraft balances horizontally and vertically. An aircraft with an improperly distributed CG can experience stability and control issues, potentially compromising safety.

By accounting for the Empty Weight, operators and pilots can calculate the weight and balance limits for a given aircraft configuration. This information ensures that the aircraft remains within its certified limits, allowing for safe and stable flight.

Aircraft Maintenance

The Empty Weight is also crucial for aircraft maintenance and inspections. Manufacturers provide maintenance manuals and guidelines that specify the weight limits for various maintenance tasks.

By accurately knowing the Empty Weight, maintenance personnel can ensure that they are within the specified weight limits when working on the aircraft, reducing the risk of damage or incorrect adjustments.

Furthermore, accurate Empty Weight information is essential during routine weighings conducted as part of an aircraft’s regular maintenance program. These weighings help detect any weight changes that may indicate structural issues or failures.


Empty Weight is a critical concept in aviation that refers to the weight of an aircraft when it is unloaded and does not include any payload, fuel, or occupants. It encompasses the airframe, engines, and fixed equipment.

Accurately determining and documenting the Empty Weight is vital for aircraft manufacturers, operators, and regulatory bodies. It directly impacts fuel consumption, range, payload capacity, and the overall performance of the aircraft.

By understanding the components of Empty Weight and its importance in various aspects of aviation, professionals in the industry can ensure safe and efficient flight operations.

For More: What is FAS in Aviation? (Final Approach Segment)