Parts of an Airplane

Diagram of Airplane Parts
  • The basic parts of an airplane are essentially the same in a small single engine airplane like the image shown and a large airliner that you see at major airports.  The parts of a typical airplane are listed below.

    Propeller - A propeller is a rotating blade on the front of the airplane.  The engine turns the propeller, which pulls the airplane through the air.  This force that the propeller supplies is called thrust.

    Wings - Wings are the parts of airplanes that provide lift.  They also support the entire weight of the aircraft and its contents while in flight.

    Control Surfaces

    Elevator - The elevator is the movable, horizontal section of the tail that causes the airplane to climb and descend.  When the elevator moves one direction, the nose moves in the same direction (up or down).  This movement is along the lateral axis.  The lateral axis is an invisible line that runs from wing tip to wing tip.  The movement caused by the elevator is called pitch.  The pilot controls the elevator by pulling or pushing on the control yoke or stick.

    Ailerons - Ailerons are the movable sections on an outer edge of an airplane's wings.  They move in opposite directions (one goes up when the other goes down).  They are used in making turns by controlling movement along the longitudinal axis.  This movement is called roll.  The longitudinal axis is an invisible line from the nose of the aircraft through the tail.  A pilot controls the ailerons by turning the control yoke or stick left or right.

    Rudder -  The rudder is the movable, vertical section of the tail that controls lateral (side-to-side) movement along the vertical axis.  The vertical axis is an invisible line through the airplane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis.  When the rudder moves in one direction, the aircraft nose moves in the same direction.  This movement is called yaw.  A pilot controls the rudder with foot pedals.

    Flaps - Flaps are the movable sections of an airplane's wings that are closest to the fuselage.  They move in the same direction on both wings at the same time, and, by creating drag and left, enable the airplane to fly more slowly.  They are used when an airplane is approaching for landing and sometimes used for takeoffs.



    Fuselage -  The fuselage is the central body of an airplane, designed to accommodate the pilot/crew and the passengers and/or cargo.

    Cockpit -  The cockpit is the space within the fuselage where the pilot sits and controls the airplane.

    Landing Gear - The landing gear is underneath the airplane and supports it while on the ground.  A small airplane will have two main landing wheels and either a nose wheel (tricycle gear) or tailwheel (conventional gear).  Airplanes with conventional landing gear are sometimes called "taildraggers."  A pilot can steer the aircraft on the ground by using nose wheel steering, which is controlled by the rudder pedals, or differential braking, also controlled by the rudder pedals.  Differential braking is when a pilot brakes with one of the main wheels causing the aircraft to turn in that direction while taxiing.