Components of an Aircraft Structure

Although aircraft functions differ greatly based on their design, their basic structures are all roughly the same. While there are many subcomponents, there are really only five major aircraft components: the fuselage, wings, empennage, powerplant, and landing gear.

The fuselage is the main piece of the aircraft, containing the cabin and cockpit where you’ll find the passengers, crew, luggage, and other cargo. The wings and tail are affixed to the fuselage during construction of the aircraft. The wings are the primary supports that lift the airplane in flight. While they can vary greatly depending on the aircraft and manufacturer, each style is tailored to optimize performance for the given aircraft. Depending on where the wings connect to the fuselage, the aircraft is referred to as either high-wing, mid-wing, or low-wing. High-wing aircraft have wings attached to the top of the fuselage, mid-wing in the middle, and low-wing at the bottom.

Another key component of an aircraft is the empennage. The empennage is composed of multiple smaller components and is essentially the tail section of the aircraft. A few of the parts in the empennage are the rudder, aircraft elevator, as well as the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The rudder is attached to the vertical stabilizer and is used to move the nose of the plane left or right. The elevator is attached to the horizontal stabilizer and controls the upward and downward movement of the nose.

While obviously imperative during landing, the landing gear is also the primary support piece of the airplane while grounded. Landing gear usually includes wheels, but could also consist of floats or even skis. The final component of an aircraft, the powerplant, is the driving force of an aircraft and includes the engine and propeller. The engine provides the propeller with power which then converts the energy from the engine into thrust, a force that pushes the plane forward in flight.


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