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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Aircraft Structure

Major Components

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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge



Table of Contents

Chapter 1, Introduction To Flying
Chapter 2, Aircraft Structure
Chapter 3, Principles of Flight
Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight
Chapter 5, Flight Controls
Chapter 6, Aircraft Systems
Chapter 7, Flight Instruments
Chapter 8, Flight Manuals and Other Documents
Chapter 9, Weight and Balance
Chapter 10, Aircraft Performance
Chapter 11, Weather Theory
Chapter 12, Aviation Weather Services
Chapter 13, Airport Operation
Chapter 14, Airspace
Chapter 15, Navigation
Chapter 16, Aeromedical Factors
Chapter 17, Aeronautical Decision Making




Center of gravity (CG)
Figure 2-3. Center of gravity (CG).

Major Components

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 powerplant.


The fuselage is the central body of an airplane and is designed
to accommodate the crew, passengers, and cargo. It also
provides the structural connection for the wings and tail
assembly. Older types of aircraft design utilized an open truss
structure constructed of wood, steel, or aluminum tubing.
[Figure 2-5] The most popular types of fuselage structures

Airplane components
Figure 2-4. Airplane components.

Truss-type fuselage structure
Figure 2-5. Truss-type fuselage structure.

used in today's aircraft are the monocoque (French for
"single shell") and semimonocoque. These structure types
are discussed in more detail under aircraft construction later
in the chapter.


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 fulfills 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.

Wings may be attached at the top, middle, or lower portion
of the fuselage. These designs are referred to as high-, mid-,
and low-wing, respectively. The number of wings can also
vary. Airplanes with a single set of wings are referred to as