AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

What are the Main Parts of an Airplane?

At its most basic form, an aircraft must be able to generate movement, land safely, and maintain flight in various conditions. Dating back to the 1930s, the basic design of aircraft has stayed generally consistent, with engines and other parts following the same general rules of design. The fuselage is the main body of the aircraft where passengers reside and enter through a door or doors that seal at high pressures. The empennage is directly behind the fuselage and the wings are attached to either side. The tail group in the rear houses steering controls such as the stabilizers and the elevators. This blog will examine the general layout of an aircraft and the main components of the complex systems involved with flight.

Logically, it makes the most sense to first understand the role of the fuselage because it is the main unit attached to all other major components. Most fuselages consist of a monocoque design, and aluminum is an ideal material for the body as it is relatively easy to produce and repair. However, there are also some popular lightweight materials available today such as composite fibers. Some outdated designs relied instead on wood, steel, or aluminum tubing covered in fabric, meaning developments have been made in terms of durability.

The wings are, of course, the main lifting components of the aircraft because they produce and maintain the important pressure balance needed for flight. Each wing has a main body known as a spar, which extends from either side of the fuselage, usually from the lower or upper sections rather than the middle. Multiple ribs extend from each spar and create the airfoil shape of the wing which is vital for directing airflow. Parallel strips known as stringers run across the ribs to create a sturdy support system for the wing shape. The entire skeleton is tightly enclosed by an aluminum skin. Some wings sit above the propellers, while smaller planes house only one propeller in the front of the aircraft. Propellers attach to the engine and transmit power to enable flight.

Some wings are additionally supported by wing struts which can assist in dispersing the force of landing. The rear of each wing has an aileron, which is a flap designed to move up or down to create roll during turning. The two ailerons move in opposite directions to create an imbalance that turns the plane and protects it from experiencing reverse yaw. The flaps are located in the rear of each wing as well but closer to the fuselage, and they move together to create the ideal wing shape for airflow or drag during landing.

Landing gear is the part of an aircraft structure that allows for ground operations, both between and during flights. In general, aircraft have a wheel on either side of the fuselage and a third wheel in the front or rear. Conventional landing gear, on the other hand, has the third wheel, or tail wheel, in the back attached to the rudder. Tricycle landing gear has the third wheel, or nose wheel, in the front attached to the rudder pedals. Both designs rely on the third wheel to steer on the ground. The other wheels brake individually allowing them to stop or steer the aircraft.

The last main subcategory of aircraft parts that this blog will cover is the empennage, which embodies the entire tail group. In the rear, the vertical and horizontal stabilizers form a T- shaped support with a rear position light and beacon at the top. The back of the vertical stabilizer has the rudder, which is a flap that moves left and right to generate side to side motion and the pilot controls this from two pedals in the cockpit. The horizontal stabilizer has the elevator, which moves up or down to control pitch. Aircraft are complex mechanisms which rely on many functioning parts and systems to create and maintain flight, but understanding the general layout can provide us with a better understanding of the basics of flying.

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December 13, 2022
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