What do you call the previous version of a plane?
I am not sure if I am imagining things, but I feel like the word version isn't used at all to refer to previous versions of the planes.

I saw the word "variant" being used a lot, but I rarely see the word "version" and they rarely give the versions a name.
Is there a reason for it? What are the various ways to refer to the different "versions" of a plane?

  • Are you asking for something specific to airplanes or something generic to the previous version of anything? (I have no idea what a plane was called before it became something that could fly and was named an airplane.) Or do you mean the other sense of plane? (But the same question applies.) Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 1:03
  • 3
    an earlier model
    – Sam
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 1:16
  • Do these earlier model have version numbers like softwares do?
    – Sayaman
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 1:24
  • 2
    If you look at the conventions for Boeing, it might make things more clear. I am relatively sure similar terms are used across the airplane industry. I think "previous model" isn't used as much bc it implies that all of those previous models were replaced by the current model, which is not the exact purpose of making a new airplane model.
    – katatahito
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 2:55
  • I don't think there is one standard usage across the whole aviation world, the RAF used the term "Mark"' as in a Spitfire Mark I, Spitfire Mark II, Spitfire Mark III, Spitfire Mark IV, Spitfire Mark V etc. So an earlier version would be an earlier mark.
    – Sarriesfan
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 13:16

2 Answers 2


If there even is a common term in the aviation industry for the previous model of a plane it's not a standard part of the language that is recognized by everyone who speaks English. It's possible that different airplane manufacturers use different terminology and also that different situations require different terms. For instance, the 737 has been around for a long time and has been redesigned and configured for different uses. Yet many of these different 'versions' exist at the same time so you can't say that one is 'previous', and they're all 737's.

I think you're looking for something that doesn't exist, if you want a single word that describes all the possible scenarios.


How about "predecessor"?

a thing that has been followed or replaced by another. "the chapel was built in 1864 on the site of its predecessor"

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