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Airplane Parts – Major Components

in Aerodynamics

I guess we should start with the basics of the basics.  Lets talk about plane parts.  The graphic below shows the main parts of an airplane body.

Most airplanes have the same major components.  Maybe not all in exactly the same places.  The Cessna 172M that I’m training in has high wings across the top of the fuselage.


The fuselage includes the cabin (where you put your butt), storage space and the controls.  The firewall separates the fuselage from the powerplant, and generally the empennage, wings and landing gear are directly attached to it.


Or airfoils.  If you didn’t know, that’s what provides lift.


The entire tail group, consisting of fixed surfaces such as the vertical stabilizer and the horizontal stabilizer.  The moveable surfaces include the rudder, the elevator, and one or more trim tabs.

Some empennage designs include a stabilator instead an elevator.  A stabilator is a one piece horizontal stabilizer that pivots from a central hinge point.

Landing Gear

Landing gear includes three wheels.  A nosewheel airplane (like a Cessna 172) has one wheel located on the nose and is sometimes called tricycle gear.  An airplane with a wheel at the back is said to have conventional landing gear.  Sometimes conventional gear airplanes are called tailwheel airplanes or tail draggers.


Includes engine and propeller and is covered by the cowling or nacelle.  The propeller generates the thrust needed to get you moving.


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