There’s a wide variety of airplanes today, but most of them, if not all, have the same main components. Basically, these components are what enables an airplane to take off, fly and land. In essence, these airplane components enable the planes to serve their functions.
Although all airplane components are important, some are more important than others. Below are the six most critical airplane components:
1. Airplane Fuselage
The fuselage is used to describe an airplanes’ central body. These airplane components designed to accommodate passengers, cargo and crew. The firewall is what separates the fuselage and the power plant. Generally, the wings, landing gear and empennage are directly attached to this component. It provides the structural connection needed by the tail assembly and the wings.
Older models of aircraft featured a design that used an open truss structure made of aluminum tubing, steel, or wood. The most commonly used fuselage structures in today’s airplane are the semi-monocoque and the monocoque (which is French for “single shell”).
2. Airplane Wings
The wings are also known as airfoils. They are attached to both sides of the fuselage. The wings are a plane’s main lifting surface and support when it is in flight. Manufacturers use different wing designs, shapes and sizes. Every aspect of a wing is designed to fulfill a certain function and respect the expected performance of an airplane. Airfoils can be attached at the middle, top, or lower part of the fuselage.
The wing designs are known as mid-, high-, and low-wings. These airplane components vary in number depending on the design. An airplane featuring a single set of airfoils is known as a monoplane, while one with two sets is called a biplane. The wings’ principal structural parts are the stringers, ribs and spars. They are reinforced by tubing, I-beams, trusses and other devices, the skin included. In most modern airplanes, you will find that the fuel tanks are an integral part of the structure of the wing, or they consist of flexible containers usually mounted inside the wing.
At the trailing or rear edges of the wing, you will find two different types of control surfaces known as flaps and ailerons. Flaps usually extend outwards from the fuselage to the midpoint of a wing. Normally, the flaps are flush with the surface of the wing during cruising flight. Ailerons extend from the midpoint of a wing and outwards toward the tip. They can move in opposite directions if you want to make the airplane roll.
3. Airplane Empennage
The term empennage is used to describe the entire tail group. These airplane components consist of fixed surfaces like the horizontal and vertical stabilizer. It also has movable surfaces like the elevator, the rudder, and trim tabs. The elevator is usually attached to the horizontal stabilizers back part. It is used to move an airplane’s nose up and down when in flight.
The rudder is usually positioned at the vertical stabilizers back part. It is used to move an airplane’s nose right and left. Trim tabs are the movable portions connected to the trailing edge of an airplane’s control surface. They help reduce control pressures. These movable portions can be controlled from the deck. Trim tabs can be installed on the rudder, the ailerons, and/or the elevator.
There is another variation to the empennage design that does not use an elevator. It uses a one-piece horizontal stabilizer pivoted from the central hinge point. The design is known as the stabilator. It is usually moved by the control wheel, the same as the elevator. Stabilators feature an antiservo tab that extends across the trailing edge. The antiservo tab can function as a trim tab to relieve control pressures and maintain the stabilator in whatever position is desired.
4. Airplane Landing Gear
The landing gear is the airplane’s principal support system when it’s parked, landing, taxiing or when taking off. Wheels are the most common option for landing gear. However, one can also equip a plane with skis to allow it to land on snow, or floats, which are suitable for water operations. Wheeled landing gear features three wheels; two main ones, and a third, which is usually positioned at the rear or front of the airplane.
The conventional landing gear is used to describe landing gear featuring a rear-mounted wheel. Airplanes that use conventional landing gear are in some cases known as tailwheel airplanes. If the third wheel is positioned on the nose, it is known as a nose wheel, and their design is referred to as the tricycle gear
5. Airplane Power Plant
The power plant includes both the propeller and the engine. The engine’s primary function is to provide power to help with the turning of the propeller. These airplane components can also provide a vacuum source for flight instruments. In single-engine airplanes, they provide heat for the passengers and the pilot.
The propeller, which is usually mounted on the front part of the engine, is used to translate the engine’s rotating force into thrust, the acting force that moves the plane through the air. The propeller is basically a rotating airfoil that produces thrust with the help of some aerodynamic action.
6. Airplane Subcomponents
The subcomponents consist of the brakes, flight controls, an electrical system and the airframe, which is an aircraft’s basic structure. It is designed to handle all aerodynamic forces. The electrical system generates, regulates and distributes electrical power in the aircraft. With the guidance and support various aviation technology, the flight controls govern the altitude of an airplane. It also dictates the path to be followed by an aircraft.