Parts of an Airplane : Definition, Function, Types, FAQ’s [PDF]

In this video we will dive deep into the main parts of an airplane. I will guide you through each part in detail where we will discuss about the functions of various parts of airplane. Let’s get started with the definition of Aircraft.

What is an Aircraft?

Though aircraft appearance and type have changed, major components remain constant. The vertical and horizontal stabilizers ensure crucial stability. Lift generation involves altering wing angles, creating differential pressure for the plane to ascend and descend. Despite significant evolution since WWI, the fundamental aircraft components remain consistent in their primary functionality, even with variations in size and type across different models like the Cessna 172 and Boeing 727.

what is an aircraft and its functions

Main Parts of an Airplane

Following are main parts of an airplane:

  • Powerplant
  • Fuselage
  • Wings
  • Cockpit
  • Tail or Empennage
  • Engine
  • Propeller
  • Landing Gear

1. Powerplant

The powerplant comprises of the engine and propeller. This is crucial for aircraft. Its main function is to generate power for the propeller. It also provide electrical power for flight instruments. It helps in cabin heating at high altitudes.

powerplant of an airplane

In smaller aircraft, the engine was in the front. With the need for larger planes, multiple powerplants are now used. They are located on the sides of the fuselage. The nacelle covers the engine under the wing for streamlined airflow. This also allows efficient fuel combustion. The propeller is attached to the front of the engine. It converts power into thrust.

2. Airplane fuselage

The fuselage houses the cockpit for pilots and the cabin for passengers, sometimes with cargo space. Aircraft fuselage construction varies, using materials like wood and welded steel tubes during WW II. Nowadays, modern small aircraft use hydroformed aluminum tubes for reduced weight and increased strength. Additionally, aluminum sheets cover the airplane’s fuselage.

fuselage of an airplane

Types of Airplane Fuselage

Following are the main types of Airplane Fuselage:

Truss

Truss fuselage is a common type in small and lightweight airplanes. It features steel trusses welded together to form a frame. This is covered with sheets of steel or other materials. This design has been used for quiet some time now.

Monocoque

Monocoque fuselages use an exterior surface as the primary structure. This is not the case with truss fuselages with internal frames. They are found in various airplanes, including military and commercial ones, such as the Boeing 787.

Semi-Monocoque

Semi-monocoque fuselages are common in aluminum airplanes. It feature a cross-section frame joined with aluminum sheets. They are called stringers. These sheets are attached to the frame using rivets and/or adhesives. While both semi-monocoque and monocoque fuselages have an exterior surface, semi-monocoque fuselages additionally incorporate aluminum sheets.

Geodesic

Geodesic airplane fuselages have a basket-like woven construction using metal or synthetic materials angled together. Pioneered by Barnes Wallis in the 1930s, they are known for their strength and durability.

3. Wings

The wings are attached to each side of the fuselage. They are aerofoils that generate lift. As air passes through the wing, the shape creates differential pressure. The wing angle can be adjusted. Separate flaps are attached to control lift force and speed during takeoff and landing. A simulation shows that lift force increases with the angle, reaching a peak at around 15 degrees. Beyond 15 degrees, the airflow separates from the wing, causing the aircraft to stall.

wings of an airplane

Ailerons

Ailerons come along with the elevator and the rudder. They are primary control surfaces for steering an aircraft. They are located on the wing’s trailing edge. Also they regulate the roll of the aircraft. In the cockpit, when the pilot turns left, the left aileron rises. This reduces lift. While the right aileron descends it increases lift. This causes the aircraft to roll left and initiate the turn.

Flaps

Ailerons and flaps are located on the trailing edge of the wing. Flaps move symmetrically on both sides. This produces more lift and drag compared to ailerons. During takeoff and landing when aircraft speeds are lower, flaps are commonly used to increase lift. This reduce stall speeds.

Winglet

A winglet is a bent-up extension. It is attached to the tip of an airliner’s wing. It was developed to reduce induced drag.

Slats

It’s called a leading-edge device. It is located at the front of the wing. Slats temporarily alters the wing’s shape to increase lift. This is similar to flaps.

Spoilers

Spoilers are used to aid the aircraft in descending. This happens by reducing the airfoil’s lift capacity. This allows the aircraft to descend and lose altitude without increasing its speed.

4. Cockpit

Pilots control aircraft from the cockpit. It is usually located near the front. It houses controls and flight instruments on an instrument panel. In commercial airplanes, a door separates the cockpit from the cabin. After the 9/11 attacks, airlines strengthened cockpits. This was done to prevent hijackers from entering. Below are descriptions of various controls and instruments found in cockpits. Each playing a crucial role during different stages of flight.

cockpit of an airplane

Instrument Panel

The cockpit provides the pilot with flight, engine, and aircraft status information, like a car dashboard. This critical data can be displayed on an interactive screen or using the standard “6 Pack,” depending on the installed avionics.

Flight Controls

Aircraft typically have two types of flight control systems: primary and secondary. These systems enable the pilot to control the flight efficiently and effectively.

Pilot Seats

The cockpit is designed to seat two people: a pilot on the left and a copilot on the right.

Rudder Pedals

During flight, the rudder pedals control the amount of yaw the airplane makes, while on the ground, they are used for steering.

Overhead Panel

The overhead panel in the cockpit contains various aircraft systems. It includes air conditioning, electrical, fuel, and hydraulic systems.

Side Consoles

Some aircraft have side consoles used for communication instruments and documentation, depending on their arrangement.

5. Tail or Empennage

tail or empennage of an airplane

Similar to feathers on an arrow, the empennage at the back of an aircraft provides stability in flight and works with the wings to produce lift. It includes control surfaces, vertical and horizontal stabilizers that stabilize yaw and pitch dynamics. Early aircraft needed stabilizing empennages for effective flight control. The tail assembly comprises the elevator, rudder, horizontal stabilizer, static wicks, and vertical stabilizer.

Horizontal Stabilizer and Elevator

The horizontal stabilizer prevents pitch oscillations. The elevator, attached to it, is a main flight control. Pulling back on the yoke raises the elevators, lifting the plane’s nose and increasing lift by modifying the wing’s attack angle.

Vertical Stabilizer and Rudder

The vertical stabilizer helps the aircraft weathervane into the relative wind. This helps in reducing yaw. The rudder is a primary flight control on the vertical stabilizer. It is controlled by the left and right pedals in the cockpit. Pressing the left pedal deflects the rudder to the left. This causes the nose to yaw left and the tail to move right. Coordinated turns are achieved when the rudder and ailerons are used together.

Static Wicks

These aircraft parts are known as static dischargers or static discharge wicks. They are used to discharge static electricity from aircraft during flight and are commonly seen as small sticks pointing backward from the wings of almost all civilian aircraft.

6. Engine

The engine is also known as an aero engine. It serves as the power source for the propulsion system. It helps in generating thrust to enable the plane to fly. Aircraft engines fall into two main categories: reciprocating and turbine engines.

engine powerplant of an airplane

Piston or Reciprocating Engine

Reciprocating engines operate by taking in air. It then compresses it and mix it with fuel. This helps to ignite it with an electric spark, and then burning it. The engine’s exhaust gases exit through the manifold at the back. The engine turns the propeller, generating thrust that propels the plane forward.

Gas Turbine Engine

In a turbine engine, compression, fuel mixing, ignition, and exhaust processes occur simultaneously and similarly. Power is produced by the engine’s exhaust, making it an alternative to reciprocating engines.

7. Propeller

The propeller converts rotary motion from the engine into forward or backward propulsion. This is done by creating a swirling slipstream. It is mounted vertically like a wing. It produces thrust to propel the plane forward. It is affixed to the engine. The rapidly spinning propeller generates lift from the pressure difference they create. This lift produces forward thrust, not upward flight. The forward thrust causes air to pass over the wings. This helps in generating vertical lift. A propeller consists of several crucial parts that are essential for its operation.

propeller of an airplane

Propeller Hub

The Propeller hub is the main housing that connects to the engine’s output shaft and holds the blades and pitch change mechanism together.

 Propeller Blade

Propeller blades resemble airplane wings in shape. It rotate to produce lift. This is also known as thrust. It propels the aircraft forward using the engine’s rotational power.

Leading Edge

The leading edge of the propeller blade is the part closest to the hub’s forward end. When looking at the propeller from behind, it is the edge that is the farthest away. To move forward, the leading edge faces into the flow of air.

Trailing Edge

The trailing edge of the propeller blade is the part closest to the hub’s back end. When viewed from behind, it is the edge that is nearest to the propeller. When generating forward thrust, the trailing edge moves away from the flow of air.

8. Landing Gear

Landing gear is the undercarriage of an aircraft. It is also used in spacecraft for takeoff and landing. It typically consists of two pieces under the belly of the plane, a rear wheel and strut, which absorb the impact with the ground. The landing gear may retract into the fuselage after landing. In general aviation, tricycle-shaped wheels are common. It has one wheel in front and two behind, or tailwheels, with two wheels in front and one under the tail.

landing gear of an airplane

FAQ’s

What are the 5 basic parts of an Airplane?

Following are the 5 basic parts of an Airplane:

1. Fuselage
2. Cockpit
3. Wings
4. Tail or Empennage
5. Engine

What are the parts of an Airplane Diagram?

Below Diagram shows the main parts of Airplane Diagram:

parts of an airplane

Conclusion

Thank you for providing a detailed overview of the article. As an AI language model, I don’t have doubts or questions, but I’m here to help with any additional information or queries you may have in the future. If you’d like assistance with anything else or have further questions on this or any other topic, feel free to reach out.

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