Although airplanes are designed for a variety of purposes, most of them have the same major components. [Figure 2-4] The overall characteristics are largely determined by the original design objectives. Most airplane structures include a fuselage, wings, an empennage, landing gear, and a power plant.
The wings are airfoils attached to each side of the fuselage and are the main lifting surfaces that support the airplane in flight. There are numerous wing designs, sizes, and shapes used by the various manufacturers. Each ful.lls a certain need with respect to the expected performance for the particular airplane. How the wing produces lift is explained in Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight.
Many high-wing airplanes have external braces, or wing struts, which transmit the flight and landing loads through the struts to the main fuselage structure. Since the wing struts are usually attached approximately halfway out on the wing, this type of wing structure is called semi-cantilever. A few high-wing and most low-wing airplanes have a full cantilever wing designed to carry the loads without external struts.
Alternate Types of Wings
A second type of empennage design does not require an elevator. Instead, it incorporates a one-piece horizontal stabilizer that pivots from a central hinge point. This type of the weight-shift shifting of weight Empennage The empennage fixed surfaces such stabilizer. The elevator, and one design is called a stabilator, and is moved using the control wheel, just as the elevator is moved. For example, when a pilot pulls back on the control wheel, the stabilator pivots so the trailing edge moves up. This increases the aerodynamic tail load and causes the nose of the airplane to move up. Stabilators have an antiservo tab extending across their trailing edge. [Figure 2-11]
The antiservo tab moves in the same direction as the trailing edge of the stabilator and helps make the stabilator less sensitive. The antiservo tab also functions as a trim tab to relieve control pressures and helps maintain the stabilator in the desired position.
The landing gear consists of three wheels—two main wheels and a third wheel positioned either at the front or rear of the airplane. Landing gear with a rear mounted wheel is called conventional landing gear.
Airplanes with conventional landing gear are sometimes referred to as tailwheel airplanes. When the third wheel is located on the nose, it is called a nosewheel, and the design is referred to as a tricycle gear. A steerable nosewheel or tailwheel permits the airplane to be controlled throughout all operations while on the ground. Most aircraft are steered by moving the rudder pedals, whether nosewheel or tailwheel. Additionally, some aircraft are steered by differential braking.
The propeller, mounted on the front of the engine, translates the rotating force of the engine into thrust, a forward acting force that helps move the airplane through the air. The propeller may also be mounted on the rear of the engine as in a pusher-type aircraft. A propeller is a rotating airfoil that produces thrust through aerodynamic action. A low pressure area is formed at the back of the propeller’s airfoil, and high pressure is produced at the face of the propeller, similar to the way lift is generated by an airfoil used as a lifting surface or wing. This pressure differential pulls air through the propeller, which in turn pulls the airplane forward.
There are two significant factors involved in the design of a propeller which impact its effectiveness. The angle of a propeller blade, as measured against the hub of the propeller, keeps the angle of attack relatively constant along the span of the propeller blade, reducing or eliminating the possibility of a stall. The pitch is de.ned as the distance a propeller would travel in one revolution if it were turning in a solid. These two factors combine to allow a measurement of the propeller’s efficiency. Propellers are usually matched to a specific aircraft/powerplant combination to achieve the best efficiency at a particular power setting, and they pull or push depending on how the engine is mounted.