Even though aircraft technology has evolved over the years, the main parts and components have remained the same. The main parts of an airplane include engines and propellers, wings, the empennage, landing gear and the fuselage.
All aircraft parts work together to create a machine capable of safely transporting people, goods and supplies, equipment and machinery and many other items worldwide.
Aircraft Engines and Propellers
Equipped with turbine or reciprocating engine systems, airplanes rely on engines to spin the propellers. Made of intricate parts and components, airplane engines contain pistons, cylinders, fans and other items that all work together to generate energy.
Comprised of two parts, propeller blades and a propeller hub, airplane propellers spin to create forward thrust. The air created by the propellers moves over the airplane wings, creating vertical lift.
An essential part of airplane flight, the wings feature multiple components such as ailerons, flaps, slats, spoilers and winglets. Many airplanes have two large wings attached to the fuselage (airplane body) and two smaller wings at the empennage (located at the back of the aircraft).
The ailerons, flaps, spoilers and winglets make up the main components of the larger wings. Aircraft pilots move left and right ailerons up and down to successfully turn a plane. Also located on the larger wings, wing flaps allow pilots to control airplane speeds while helping prevent engines from stalling.
Located near wing flaps, slats allow pilots to change the wing shape. This is useful when pilots need to increase airplane lift. Spoilers help pilots control the plane when descending. Spoilers regulate speed as a plane loses altitude so it can land safely.
Winglets, located on the wing tips, help reduce drag, which can limit an airplane’s ability to lift off the ground properly.
Also known as the airplane tail, the empennage has two parts, a horizontal stabilizer with an elevator and a vertical stabilizer with a rudder.
The horizontal stabilizer with an elevator allows pilots to raise and lower the airplane nose. Doing this helps airplanes ascend and descend.
The vertical stabilizer with a rudder helps keep an airplane stable when moving through various wind patterns and other weather conditions.
Airplane Landing Gear
Necessary for safe takeoffs and landings, airplane landing gear typically includes three wheels (two in front and one in back or two in back and one in front) and wheel shock struts. Wheel positioning depends on the airplane model. Shock struts help lessen the impact when the aircraft touches the ground to ensure a more comfortable landing experience.
Pilots control the landing gear, moving it up and down when taking off and landing. An essential part of any aircraft, landing gear must operate effectively at all times, or pilots won’t be able to land planes safely.
Also called the body of an aircraft, the fuselage houses people and equipment. It’s also where the cockpit is located. Pilots sit in the cockpit when operating an aircraft. Controls needed to operate airplanes include instrument panels and flight controls, rudder pedals, side consoles and overhead panels.
Instrument panels feature all the gauges, digital information, buttons, levers and other items used to fly the aircraft. Flight controls include steering and other components used to move specific parts on the wings and the tail.
Overhead panels feature controls for air conditioning, fuel, hydraulics and other items, while side consoles house communication instruments pilots use to talk to each other, ground control specialists at airports and passengers.
All parts of an aircraft must be operational for pilots to safely operate these machines. Routine maintenance is necessary to protect pilots, passengers and cargo during a flight.