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Fixed Wing-Aeroplane

By: Dee Harrison - Updated: 22 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fixed Wing Aircraft Fixed Wing Aeroplane

As the name suggests the wings on fixed wing aircraft do not move separately from the entire aircraft, to generate lift. Fixed wing includes powered aircraft and gliders.

Aircraft Parts

All fixed wing aircraft have a number of common parts, although the design of these may vary to facilitate different types of flight. Some aircraft are built for speed, performance and manoeuvrability; others are built to be the workhorses of the sky, carrying large payloads.

All fixed wing aircraft will have:

  • A fuselage. This is the main body of the aircraft where the crew and passengers, if any, cargo and flight instruments are located. Single engine aircraft accommodate their one engine within the fuselage and some aircraft also store fuel in this area.

  • A vertical stabiliser, sometimes called the tail fin, is fitted to the rear of the aircraft to assist with directional control and yaw. Some aircraft have more than one stabiliser.

  • Wings. Most modern aircraft now just have a single pair of wings but you may be familiar with the bi-planes and tri-planes still found in historic flights and aviation museums. Wings are not simple slabs of metal. They are intricately designed multi function areas of the aeroplane. Used for fuel storage, directional and speed control and, most importantly of all, to generate the lift that allows the aircraft to fly.

    Variations in the design of the wing enable different types of flight and this is why you will see many wing shapes. Even a commercial jet can change the overall aerodynamic shape of its wings to facilitate different stages of flight. Flaps can be deployed for take off and during periods of slow flight to increase the wing area and generate more lift. Additional degrees of flap are available to the pilot to reduce speed when landing. A variety of slots, slats and other devices can be fitted to wings to act as air brakes or to further extend the total useful aerodynamic area of the wing.

  • Unless the aircraft has a delta wing configuration (think Concorde) there will be a horizontal stabiliser at the rear of the aircraft that looks very much like a second smaller set of wings. This may be located at the base or top of the vertical stabiliser or tail fin. It is movement of the horizontal stabiliser together with power inputs that control the attitude of the aircraft i.e. whether it is climbing, descending or flying straight and level.

  • Powered fixed wing aeroplanes have an engine. This may be piston or jet. Engines can be located at either the front or the rear of the aircraft fuselage or attached to the wings. Some aircraft have both fuselage and wing mounted engines. Depending on the location of the engine(s) the power produced will either push or pull the aircraft through the air.

  • Landing Gear may be in the form of wheels, floats or skids depending on the take off and landing environment. Some aircraft have a boat shaped fuselage that effectively becomes a hull when they land on water. Floats and skids are located on either side of the aircraft fuselage.

    Landing gear wheels can be configured in a number of ways. Perhaps the most common type of landing gear is the tricycle formation with a wheel under the nose and the main rear wheels attached to each wing. Depending on the total weight of the aircraft these may be single or multiple wheels. Some aircraft are designed to be tail draggers or tail wheel types with the main gear being located under the wings but the steering wheel moved to the rear of the aircraft. The Spitfire is a classic example of a tail wheel configured landing gear.

    Some modern experimental aircraft incorporate all manner of interesting landing gear designs - an example is the Europa, which has one large massive central wheel under the fuselage with two ancillary arms, one at each wing tip. Landing gear may be fixed or retractable. Training aircraft tend to have fixed gear as they are not performance aircraft and the additional drag caused by the wheels does not cause a problem. It is also one less thing for the student pilot to worry about. Aircraft that are built for speed, performance or to carry large payloads invariably have gear that will retract into the fuselage and wings during flight. Fixed wing aircraft need adequate runs for take off and landing that are clear of obstructions at either end.

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