While aircraft can be made from hundreds of thousands to millions of items depending on their size, they all relatively resemble one another once assembled. Consisting of 5 primary parts, the pieces that come together to create man-made flight include the fuselage, empennage, wings, powerplant, and landing gear. Constructed and ever-evolving to make flight as fast, efficient, and safe as possible, these components are held to strict maintenance protocols regarding their design and manufacture to ensure planes of any size are airworthy and ready for takeoff.
Known as the body of the plane, the fuselage is a hollow structure resembling a tube that houses all passengers, crew members, and cargo. Moreover, situated at the front is the cockpit, that of which is an individual structure securely connected to the fuselage and is occupied by the pilot. Like the cockpit, the fuselage also serves as a connection point for all other major parts of the aircraft, including its wings, powerplant, empennage, and landing gear, alongside additional flight equipment found along the vehicle’s exterior.
Attached to the sides of the fuselage, wings are what give aircraft the ability to generate the significant amount of lift needed for flight. Commonly referred to as foils, the shape of a pair of wings will vary by plane model, and they can be found anywhere along the middle and/or tail-end of the vehicle.
A powerplant provides the driving force necessary to propel aircraft forward. Used to generate tremendous amounts of thrust, the powerplant includes the engine and the propeller or turbine. When in use, the powerplant functions as a unit, in tandem with numerous interacting parts, to generate enough power to create forward momentum.
Affixed to the underside of the fuselage, landing gear comes in a variety of different types to best suit a particular plane’s size and weight. Important for their role in keeping aircraft off the ground, they also allow surface movement and provide vehicles the capability to safely takeoff and land on a runway or other applicable surface.
However, when in flight, erect landing gear can cause increased drag, resulting in more fuel consumption and decreased performance. To remedy this issue, heavier-than-air planes like those used for commercial airliners incorporate retractable equipment, allowing landing gear to be stowed within the fuselage once airborne. With this in mind, once they are needed again, the pilot can instigate a switch which lowers the landing gear into place to prepare for an established landing approach.
Composing the rear end of an aircraft, the empennage is made up of two primary components, the rudder and elevator, which work together to regulate vehicle stability. Applied to increase its range of aerodynamic movement, the rudder functions to steer a plane left or right, while the elevator influences changes in elevation.
Whether an aircraft is meant to fly at subsonic, transonic, supersonic, or hypersonic speeds, this ultimately determines its design and the overall shape of the fuselage, powerplant, wings, empennage, and landing gear. Among other small electronic and hardware alterations that change depending on the type of aircraft being flown, precaution must always be taken when flying different types of planes as not all can fly at the same altitudes.
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