Airplane Parts & Functions

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There are a variety of parts that work together to make an airplane fly. While they all are unique in function and design, the different structures all work to create lift. The wing creates lift to make the entire aircraft fly. The different movable parts of the airplane cause the airplane to turn, climb or descend by changing the direction of lift on the wings.

Fuselage

  • The fuselage is the main body of the aircraft that houses the passengers, flight crew and luggage. Some airplanes carry the fuel in the fuselage; others carry it in the wings.

Wings

  • The top part of the wing is curved while the bottom is straight which causes the air on top to move faster. The faster moving air on top of the wing creates a low pressure that lifts up while the higher pressure on the bottom of the wing pushes up.

Ailerons

  • At the end of each wing are movable flaps called ailerons. The movement of the ailerons causes the wings to dip in either direction in a maneuver called banking. Banking the airplane is the primary force used to make turns. The ailerons are attached to each other and move in opposite directions. The upward movement of the aileron causes a downward movement of the wing. When the right aileron goes up, the right wing goes down.

Slats and Flaps

  • Flaps are movable surfaces located at the back of the wing near the fuselage. The flaps lower and move rearward making the wing larger. With the larger wing area, the airplane is able to fly at slower speeds for landing or use less runway for takeoff. Slats are located on the front of the wings and work in the same manner as flaps. Most airplanes have flaps while slats are typically found only on jets.

Vertical Stabilizer and Rudder

  • The vertical stabilizer is located on the top of the back of the airplane. The vertical stabilizer sticks up in a way similar to a shark fin and is used to keep the nose of the airplane straight. The rudder is a movable surface attached to the vertical stabilizer and is controlled by pedals in the cockpit. The rudder moves left and right to steer the nose of the aircraft in conjunction with banking the plane with ailerons to steer the aircraft.

Horizontal Stabilizer and Elevator

  • The horizontal stabilizer is attached to the back of the plane near the rudder. The stabilizer is similar to a wing that is placed upside down to push the tail of the plane downward to counteract the weight on the front of the aircraft. The elevator is a movable surface attached to the horizontal stabilizer that moves up and down by the movement of the yoke inside the cockpit. When the elevator is moved upwards, the nose of the plane goes up. Moving it down moves the nose of the plane down.

References

  • Photo Credit Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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