Thursday, October 1, 2009

Subcomponents of Aircraft

The subcomponents of an airplane include the airframe, electrical system, flight controls, and brakes.

The airframe is the basic structure of an aircraft and is designed to withstand all aerodynamic forces, as well as the stresses imposed by the weight of the fuel, crew, and payload.

The primary function of an aircraft electrical system is to generate, regulate, and distribute electrical power throughout the aircraft. There are several different power sources on aircraft to power the aircraft electrical systems. These power sources include: engine-driven alternating current (AC) generators, auxiliary power units (APUs), and external power. The aircraft’s electrical power system is used to operate the flight instruments, essential systems such as anti-icing, etc., and passenger services, such as cabin lighting.

The flight controls are the devices and systems which govern the attitude of an aircraft and, as a result, the flightpath followed by the aircraft. In the case of many conventional airplanes, the primary flight controls utilize hinged, trailing-edge surfaces called elevators for pitch, ailerons for roll, and the rudder for yaw. These surfaces are operated by the pilot in the flight deck or by an automatic pilot.

Airplane brakes consist of multiple pads (called caliper pads) that are hydraulically squeezed toward each other with a rotating disk (called a rotor) between them. The pads place pressure on the rotor which is turning with the wheels. As a result of the increased friction on the rotor, the wheels inherently slow down and stop turning. The disks and brake pads are made either from steel, like those in a car, or from a carbon material that weighs less and can absorb more energy. Because airplane brakes are used principally during landings and must absorb enormous amounts of energy, their life is measured in landings rather than miles.

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