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Fixed-wing aircraft

Fixed-wing aircraft

Overview


A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 capable of flight
Flight
Flight is the process by which an object moves either through an atmosphere or beyond it by generating lift or propulsive thrust, or aerostatically using buoyancy, or by simple ballistic movement....

 using wing
Wing
A wing is an appendage with a surface that produces lift for flight or propulsion through the atmosphere, or through another gaseous or liquid fluid...

s that generate lift
Lift (force)
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

 due to the vehicle's forward airspeed
Airspeed
Airspeed is the speed of an aircraft relative to the air. Among the common conventions for qualifying airspeed are: indicated airspeed , calibrated airspeed , true airspeed , equivalent airspeed and density airspeed....

. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft
Rotorcraft
A rotorcraft or rotary wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine that uses lift generated by wings, called rotor blades, that revolve around a mast. Several rotor blades mounted to a single mast are referred to as a rotor. The International Civil Aviation Organization defines a rotorcraft...

 in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopter
Ornithopter
An ornithopter is an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings. Designers seek to imitate the flapping-wing flight of birds, bats, and insects. Though machines may differ in form, they are usually built on the same scale as these flying creatures. Manned ornithopters have also been built, and some...

s in which lift is generated by flapping wings.

A powered fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust
Thrust
Thrust is a reaction force described quantitatively by Newton's second and third laws. When a system expels or accelerates mass in one direction the accelerated mass will cause a force of equal magnitude but opposite direction on that system....

 from a jet engine
Jet engine
A jet engine is a reaction engine that discharges a fast moving jet to generate thrust by jet propulsion and in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets, ramjets, pulse jets...

 or propeller
Propeller (aircraft)
Aircraft propellers or airscrews convert rotary motion from piston engines or turboprops to provide propulsive force. They may be fixed or variable pitch. Early aircraft propellers were carved by hand from solid or laminated wood with later propellers being constructed from metal...

 is typically called an aeroplane, airplane, or simply plane.
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Encyclopedia


A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 capable of flight
Flight
Flight is the process by which an object moves either through an atmosphere or beyond it by generating lift or propulsive thrust, or aerostatically using buoyancy, or by simple ballistic movement....

 using wing
Wing
A wing is an appendage with a surface that produces lift for flight or propulsion through the atmosphere, or through another gaseous or liquid fluid...

s that generate lift
Lift (force)
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

 due to the vehicle's forward airspeed
Airspeed
Airspeed is the speed of an aircraft relative to the air. Among the common conventions for qualifying airspeed are: indicated airspeed , calibrated airspeed , true airspeed , equivalent airspeed and density airspeed....

. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft
Rotorcraft
A rotorcraft or rotary wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine that uses lift generated by wings, called rotor blades, that revolve around a mast. Several rotor blades mounted to a single mast are referred to as a rotor. The International Civil Aviation Organization defines a rotorcraft...

 in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopter
Ornithopter
An ornithopter is an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings. Designers seek to imitate the flapping-wing flight of birds, bats, and insects. Though machines may differ in form, they are usually built on the same scale as these flying creatures. Manned ornithopters have also been built, and some...

s in which lift is generated by flapping wings.

A powered fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust
Thrust
Thrust is a reaction force described quantitatively by Newton's second and third laws. When a system expels or accelerates mass in one direction the accelerated mass will cause a force of equal magnitude but opposite direction on that system....

 from a jet engine
Jet engine
A jet engine is a reaction engine that discharges a fast moving jet to generate thrust by jet propulsion and in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets, ramjets, pulse jets...

 or propeller
Propeller (aircraft)
Aircraft propellers or airscrews convert rotary motion from piston engines or turboprops to provide propulsive force. They may be fixed or variable pitch. Early aircraft propellers were carved by hand from solid or laminated wood with later propellers being constructed from metal...

 is typically called an aeroplane, airplane, or simply plane. Other types of powered fixed-wing aircraft include powered paragliders and ground effect vehicles. Unpowered fixed-wing aircraft, including gliders
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...

, paragliders, hang gliders and kite
Kite
A kite is a tethered aircraft. The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air flows over and under the kite's wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind...

s, can use moving air to gain height.

Most fixed-wing aircraft are flown by a pilot on board the aircraft, but some are designed to be remotely or computer-controlled
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

.

Etymology


First attested in English in late 19th century, the word aeroplane derives from the French aéroplane, which comes from the Greek ἀήρ (aēr), "air" + πλάνος (planos), "wandering". An ancient Greek term coined from these two words was ἀερόπλανος (aeroplanos), "wandering in air".

In the United Kingdom and most of the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, the term "aeroplane" is used. In the United States, the term "airplane" is applied to these aircraft. The form "aeroplane" is the older of the two, dating back to the mid- to late-19th century. The spelling "airplane" was first recorded in 1907.

History


Many stories from antiquity involve flight, such as the Greek legend
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 of Icarus
Icarus (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus. The main story told about Icarus is his attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax...

 and Daedalus
Daedalus
In Greek mythology, Daedalus was a skillful craftsman and artisan.-Family:...

, and the Vimana
Vimana
Vimāna is a word with several meanings ranging from temple or palace to mythological flying machines described in Sanskrit epics.-Etymology and usage:Sanskrit vi-māna literally means "measuring out, traversing" or "having been measured out"...

 in ancient Indian epics
Indian epic poetry
Indian epic poetry is the epic poetry written in the Indian subcontinent, traditionally called Kavya . The Ramayana and Mahabharata, originally composed in Sanskrit and translated thereafter into many other Indian languages, are some of the oldest surviving epic poems on earth and form part of...

. Around 400 BC in Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, Archytas
Archytas
Archytas was an Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist. He was a scientist of the Pythagorean school and famous for being the reputed founder of mathematical mechanics, as well as a good friend of Plato....

 was reputed to have designed and built the first artificial, self-propelled flying device, a bird-shaped model propelled by a jet of what was probably steam, said to have flown some 200 m. This machine may have been suspended for its flight.

Some of the earliest recorded attempts with gliders
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...

 were those by the 9th-century poet Abbas Ibn Firnas
Abbas Ibn Firnas
Abbas Ibn Firnas , also known as Abbas Qasim Ibn Firnas and عباس بن فرناس , was a Muslim Andalusian polymath: an inventor, engineer, aviator, physician, Arabic poet, and Andalusian musician. Of Berber descent, he was born in Izn-Rand Onda, Al-Andalus , and lived in the Emirate of Córdoba...

 and the 11th-century monk Eilmer of Malmesbury
Eilmer of Malmesbury
Eilmer of Malmesbury was an 11th-century English Benedictine monk best known for his early attempt at a gliding flight using wings.- Life :...

; both experiments injured their pilots. Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

 researched the wing design of birds and designed a man-powered aircraft in his Codex on the Flight of Birds
Codex on the Flight of Birds
Codex on the Flight of Birds is a relatively short codex of circa 1505 by Leonardo da Vinci. It comprises 18 folios and measures 21 × 15 centimetres. Now held at the Biblioteca Reale in Turin, Italy, the codex begins with an examination of the flight behavior of birds and proposes mechanisms for...

(1502).
In 1799, Sir George Cayley set forth the concept of the modern aeroplane as a fixed-wing flying machine with separate systems for lift, propulsion, and control. Cayley was building and flying models of fixed-wing aircraft as early as 1803, and he built a successful passenger-carrying glider
Glider aircraft
Glider aircraft are heavier-than-air craft that are supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against their lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. Mostly these types of aircraft are intended for routine operation without engines, though engine failure can...

 in 1853. In 1856, Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Bris
Jean-Marie Le Bris
Jean-Marie Le Bris was a French aviator, born in Concarneau, Brittany, who accomplished a glider flight in December 1856.- Life and works :...

 made the first powered flight, by having his glider "L'Albatros artificiel" pulled by a horse on a beach. In 1883, the American John J. Montgomery
John J. Montgomery
John Joseph Montgomery was an aviation pioneer, inventor, professor at Santa Clara College.On August 28, 1883 he made the first manned, controlled, heavier-than-air flights of the United States, in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego, California...

 made a controlled flight in a glider. Other aviators who made similar flights at that time were Otto Lilienthal
Otto Lilienthal
Otto Lilienthal was a German pioneer of human aviation who became known as the Glider King. He was the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful gliding flights. He followed an experimental approach established earlier by Sir George Cayley...

, Percy Pilcher
Percy Pilcher
Percy Sinclair Pilcher was a British inventor and pioneer aviator who was his country's foremost experimenter in unpowered flight at the end of the 19th Century...

, and Octave Chanute
Octave Chanute
Octave Chanute was a French-born American railway engineer and aviation pioneer. He provided the Wright brothers with help and advice, and helped to publicize their flying experiments. At his death he was hailed as the father of aviation and the heavier-than-air flying machine...

.

Sir Hiram Maxim built a craft that weighed 3.5 tons, with a 110-foot (34-meter) wingspan that was powered by two 360-horsepower (270-kW) steam engines driving two propellers. In 1894, his machine was tested with overhead rails to prevent it from rising. The test showed that it had enough lift to take off. The craft was uncontrollable, which Maxim, it is presumed, realized, because he subsequently abandoned work on it.

In the 1890s, Lawrence Hargrave
Lawrence Hargrave
Lawrence Hargrave was an engineer, explorer, astronomer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer.- Early life :Hargrave was born in Greenwich, England, the second son of John Fletcher Hargrave and was educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland...

 conducted research on wing structures and developed a box kite
Box kite
A box kite is a high-performance kite, noted for developing relatively high lift; it is a type within the family of cellular kites. The typical design has four parallel struts. The box is made rigid with diagonal crossed struts. There are two sails, or ribbons, whose width is about a quarter of the...

 that lifted the weight of a man. His box kite designs were widely adopted and became the prevalent type of aircraft until 1909. Although he also developed a type of rotary aircraft engine, he did not create and fly a powered fixed-wing aircraft.

The Wright brothers
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

 flights in 1903 are recognised by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale is the world governing body for air sports and aeronautics and astronautics world records. Its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. This includes man-carrying aerospace vehicles from balloons to spacecraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles...

(FAI), the standard setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics
Aeronautics
Aeronautics is the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of airflight-capable machines, or the techniques of operating aircraft and rocketry within the atmosphere...

, as "the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight". By 1905, the Wright Flyer III
Wright Flyer III
The Wright Flyer III was the third powered aircraft built by the Wright Brothers. Orville Wright made the first flight with it on June 23, 1905. The Flyer III had an airframe of spruce construction with a wing camber of 1-in-20 as used in 1903, rather than the less effective 1-in-25 used in 1904...

 was capable of fully controllable, stable flight for substantial periods.

In 1906, Alberto Santos Dumont made what has been claimed as the first airplane flight unassisted by catapult
Catapult
A catapult is a device used to throw or hurl a projectile a great distance without the aid of explosive devices—particularly various types of ancient and medieval siege engines. Although the catapult has been used since ancient times, it has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms during...

 and set the first world record recognised by the Aéro-Club de France
Aéro-Club de France
The Aéro-Club de France was founded as the Aéro-Club on 20 October 1898 as a society 'to encourage aerial locomotion' by Ernest Archdeacon, Léon Serpollet, Henri de la Valette, Jules Verne and his wife, André Michelin, Albert de Dion, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe, and Henry de...

 by flying 220 metres (721.8 ft) in less than 22 seconds. This flight was also certified by the FAI.

An early aircraft design that brought together the modern monoplane
Monoplane
A monoplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with one main set of wing surfaces, in contrast to a biplane or triplane. Since the late 1930s it has been the most common form for a fixed wing aircraft.-Types of monoplane:...

 tractor configuration
Tractor configuration
thumb|right|[[Evektor-Aerotechnik|Aerotechnik EV97A Eurostar]], a tractor configuration aircraft, being pulled into position by its pilot for refuelling....

 was the Bleriot VIII
Blériot VIII
|-References:* Devaux, Jean and Michel Marani. "Les Douze Premiers Aéroplanes de Louis Blériot". Pegase No 54, May 1989.* * -See also:...

 design of 1908. It had movable tail surfaces controlling both yaw and pitch, a form of roll control supplied either by wing warping or by ailerons and controlled by its pilot with a joystick
Joystick
A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Joysticks, also known as 'control columns', are the principal control in the cockpit of many civilian and military aircraft, either as a center stick or...

 and rudder bar. It was an important predecessor of his later Bleriot XI
Blériot XI
The Blériot XI is the aircraft in which, on 25 July 1909, Louis Blériot made the first flight across the English Channel made in a heavier-than-air aircraft . This achievement is one of the most famous accomplishments of the early years of aviation, and not only won Blériot a lasting place in...

 Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

-crossing aircraft of the summer of 1909.

World War I served as a testbed for the use of the aircraft as a weapon. Initially seen by the generals as a "toy", aircraft demonstrated their potential as mobile observation platforms, then proved themselves to be machines of war capable of causing casualties to the enemy. The earliest known aerial victory with a synchronised machine gun-armed fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 occurred in 1915, by German Luftstreitkräfte
Luftstreitkräfte
The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte , known before October 1916 as Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches , or simply Die Fliegertruppen, was the air arm of the Imperial German Army during World War I...

 Leutnant Kurt Wintgens
Kurt Wintgens
Leutnant Kurt Wintgens was a German World War I fighter ace. He was the first military fighter pilot to score a victory over an opposing aircraft in an aircraft armed with a synchronized machine gun. Wintgens was the recipient of the Iron Cross and the Blue Max.-Background:Wintgens was born into a...

. Fighter aces appeared; the greatest (by number of air victories) was Manfred von Richthofen
Manfred von Richthofen
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen , also widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service during World War I...

.

Following WWI, aircraft technology continued to develop. Alcock and Brown
Alcock and Brown
British aviators Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919. They flew a modified World War I Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland...

 crossed the Atlantic non-stop for the first time in 1919. The first commercial flights took place between the United States and Canada in 1919.

Aircraft had a presence in all the major battles of World War II. They were an essential component of the military strategies of the period, such as the German Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

 or the American and Japanese aircraft carrier campaigns of the Pacific.

The first jet aircraft was the German Heinkel He 178
Heinkel He 178
|-See also:*List of firsts in aviation-Bibliography:* Warsitz, Lutz: The First Jet Pilot - The Story of German Test Pilot Erich Warsitz, Pen and Sword Books Ltd., England, 2009, ISBN 9781844158188.-External links:...

, which was tested in 1939. In 1943, the Messerschmitt Me 262
Messerschmitt Me 262
The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe was the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft. Design work started before World War II began, but engine problems prevented the aircraft from attaining operational status with the Luftwaffe until mid-1944...

, the first jet fighter aircraft, went into service in the German Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

. In October 1947, the Bell X-1
Bell X-1
The Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, was a joint NACA-U.S. Army/US Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived in 1944 and designed and built over 1945, it eventually reached nearly 1,000 mph in 1948...

 was the first aircraft to exceed the speed of sound.

In 1948-49, aircraft transported supplies during the Berlin Blockade
Berlin Blockade
The Berlin Blockade was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War and the first resulting in casualties. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied...

. New aircraft types, such as the B-52, were produced during the Cold War.

The first jet airliner
Jet airliner
A jet airliner is an airliner that is powered by jet engines. This term is sometimes contracted to jetliner or jet.In contrast to today's relatively fuel-efficient, turbofan-powered air travel, first generation jet airliner travel was noisy and fuel inefficient...

, the de Havilland Comet
De Havilland Comet
The de Havilland DH 106 Comet was the world's first commercial jet airliner to reach production. Developed and manufactured by de Havilland at the Hatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom headquarters, it first flew in 1949 and was a landmark in aeronautical design...

, was introduced in 1952. The Boeing 707
Boeing 707
The Boeing 707 is a four-engine narrow-body commercial passenger jet airliner developed by Boeing in the early 1950s. Its name is most commonly pronounced as "Seven Oh Seven". The first airline to operate the 707 was Pan American World Airways, inaugurating the type's first commercial flight on...

, the first widely successful commercial jet, was in commercial service for more than 50 years, from 1958 to 2010. The Boeing 747
Boeing 747
The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first wide-body ever produced...

 was the world's biggest passenger aircraft from 1970 until it was surpassed by the Airbus A380
Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS. It is the largest passenger airliner in the world. Due to its size, many airports had to modify and improve facilities to accommodate it...

 in 2005.

Overview



Structure


The most common configuration of a fixed-wing aircraft includes:
  • A fuselage
    Fuselage
    The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

    , a long, thin body, often cylindrical, and usually with tapered or rounded ends to make its shape aerodynamically smooth. The fuselage
    Fuselage
    The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

     may contain the flight crew, passengers, cargo or payload, fuel and engines the aircraft is designed for or they may be attached to it. The pilots
    Aviator
    An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

     of manned aircraft operate them from a cockpit located at the front or top of the fuselage and equipped with controls and usually windows and instruments. An aircraft may have more than one fuselage, or it may be fitted with booms with the tail located between the booms to allow the extreme rear of the fuselage to be useful for a variety of purposes.


  • A large horizontal wing with an airfoil
    Airfoil
    An airfoil or aerofoil is the shape of a wing or blade or sail as seen in cross-section....

     cross-section shape. The wing deflects air downward as the aircraft moves forward, generating lifting force
    Lift (force)
    A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

     to support the aircraft in flight. The wing also stabilises the aircraft's roll (tilt left or right), and the wing-mounted ailerons control rotation about the roll axis. A wide variety of wing configuration
    Wing configuration
    Fixed-wing aircraft, popularly called aeroplanes, airplanes or just planes may be built with many wing configurations.This page provides a breakdown of types, allowing a full description of any aircraft's wing configuration...

    s (e.g., multiplane
    Multiplane (aeronautics)
    In aviation, a multiplane is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration featuring multiple wing planes. The wing planes may be stacked one above another, or one behind another, or both in combination....

     aircraft and delta wing
    Delta wing
    The delta wing is a wing planform in the form of a triangle. It is named for its similarity in shape to the Greek uppercase letter delta .-Delta-shaped stabilizers:...

     planform
    Planform
    In aviation, a planform is the shape and layout of a fixed-wing aircraft's fuselage and wing. Of all the myriad planforms used, they can typically be grouped into those used for low-speed flight, found on general aviation aircraft, and those used for high-speed flight, found on many military...

    ) have been used.

  • A vertical stabiliser a vertical surface mounted at the rear of the aircraft and typically protruding above it. The vertical stabilizer stabilises the aircraft's yaw (turn left or right) and mounts the rudder
    Rudder
    A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

     which controls its rotation along that axis.
  • A horizontal stabiliser or elevator, or tailplane, mounted at the tail of the aircraft, near the vertical stabilizer. The horizontal stabilizer is used to stabilise the aircraft's pitch (tilt up or down) and mounts the elevators
    Elevator (aircraft)
    Elevators are flight control surfaces, usually at the rear of an aircraft, which control the aircraft's orientation by changing the pitch of the aircraft, and so also the angle of attack of the wing. In simplified terms, they make the aircraft nose-up or nose-down...

     which provide pitch control. A fixed portion of the elevators may be omitted in which case it is termed an all flying tail. Some aircraft use a front-mounted canard
    Canard (aeronautics)
    In aeronautics, canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing...

     instead of a rear-mounted horizontal stabilizer.
  • Powered aircraft have one or more engines
    Aircraft engine
    An aircraft engine is the component of the propulsion system for an aircraft that generates mechanical power. Aircraft engines are almost always either lightweight piston engines or gas turbines...

    that provide thrust to push the aircraft forward through the air. The most common propulsion units are propeller
    Propeller (aircraft)
    Aircraft propellers or airscrews convert rotary motion from piston engines or turboprops to provide propulsive force. They may be fixed or variable pitch. Early aircraft propellers were carved by hand from solid or laminated wood with later propellers being constructed from metal...

    s (powered by reciprocating
    Reciprocating engine
    A reciprocating engine, also often known as a piston engine, is a heat engine that uses one or more reciprocating pistons to convert pressure into a rotating motion. This article describes the common features of all types...

     or turbine
    Turboprop
    A turboprop engine is a type of turbine engine which drives an aircraft propeller using a reduction gear.The gas turbine is designed specifically for this application, with almost all of its output being used to drive the propeller...

     engines) and jet engine
    Jet engine
    A jet engine is a reaction engine that discharges a fast moving jet to generate thrust by jet propulsion and in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets, ramjets, pulse jets...

    s (which provide thrust directly from the engine and usually also from a large fan
    Turbofan
    The turbofan is a type of airbreathing jet engine that is widely used for aircraft propulsion. A turbofan combines two types of engines, the turbo portion which is a conventional gas turbine engine, and the fan, a propeller-like ducted fan...

     mounted within the engine).
  • Landing gear
    Landing Gear
    Landing Gear is Devin the Dude's fifth studio album. It was released on October 7, 2008. It was his first studio album since signing with the label Razor & Tie. It features a high-profile guest appearance from Snoop Dogg. As of October 30, 2008, the album has sold 18,906 copies.-Track...

    ,
    a set of wheels, skids, or floats that support the aircraft while it is on the surface. On seaplanes the bottom of the fuselage or floats (pontoons) support it while on the water. On some aircraft the landing gear retract during flight to reduce drag.


There are many different configurations of airplanes. An aircraft may have two or more fuselages, or additional pods or booms. Some aircraft have more than one horizontal or vertical stabilizer, while V-tail
V-tail
In aircraft, a V-tail is an unconventional arrangement of the tail control surfaces that replaces the traditional fin and horizontal surfaces with two surfaces set in a V-shaped configuration when viewed from the front or rear of the aircraft...

 aircraft combine the horizontal and vertical stabilizers into a pair of diagonal surfaces. While all of the above items are essential - there have been aircraft flown that have dispensed with any one of the components listed, by modifying other components to fulfill the missing components function. A flying wing
Flying wing
A flying wing is a tailless fixed-wing aircraft which has no definite fuselage, with most of the crew, payload and equipment being housed inside the main wing structure....

aircraft has no discernible fuselage structure and horizontal or vertical stabilizers, though it may have small blisters or pods. The opposite of this is a lifting body
Lifting body
A lifting body is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration in which the body itself produces lift. In contrast to a flying wing, which is a wing with minimal or no conventional fuselage, a lifting body can be thought of as a fuselage with little or no conventional wing...

which has no wings, though it may have small stabilising and control surfaces. Delta wing
Delta wing
The delta wing is a wing planform in the form of a triangle. It is named for its similarity in shape to the Greek uppercase letter delta .-Delta-shaped stabilizers:...

 aircraft often dispense with the horizontal stabilizer and a few aircraft have even dispensed with the vertical stabilizer.

Most aircraft are largely symmetrical along a plane of symmetry, excepting the propeller and minor alterations to counteract the effects of the spinning propeller.

Controls


A number of controls allow pilots to direct aircraft in the air. The controls found in a typical fixed-wing aircraft are as follows:
  • A yoke
    Yoke (aircraft)
    A yoke, alternatively known as control column, is a device used for piloting in most fixed-wing aircraft.- Principle :The aviator uses the yoke to control the attitude of the plane, usually in both pitch and roll. Rotating the control wheel controls the ailerons and the roll axis...

    or joystick
    Joystick
    A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Joysticks, also known as 'control columns', are the principal control in the cockpit of many civilian and military aircraft, either as a center stick or...

    ,
    which controls rotation of the aircraft about the pitch and roll axes. A yoke
    Yoke (aircraft)
    A yoke, alternatively known as control column, is a device used for piloting in most fixed-wing aircraft.- Principle :The aviator uses the yoke to control the attitude of the plane, usually in both pitch and roll. Rotating the control wheel controls the ailerons and the roll axis...

     resembles a steering wheel, and a control stick is a joystick. The pilot can pitch the aircraft down by pushing on the yoke or stick, and pitch the aircraft up by pulling on it. Rolling the aircraft is accomplished by turning the yoke in the direction of the desired roll, or by tilting the control stick in that direction. Pitch changes are used to adjust the altitude and speed of the aircraft; roll changes assist the aircraft in turning in conjunction with the rudder. Control sticks and yokes are usually positioned between the pilot's legs; however, a sidestick is a type of control stick that is positioned on either side of the pilot.
  • Rudder
    Rudder
    A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

     pedals,
    which control rotation of the aircraft about the yaw axis. There are two pedals that pivot so that when one is pressed forward the other moves backward, and vice versa. The pilot presses on the right rudder pedal to make the aircraft yaw to the right, and on the left pedal to make it yaw to the left. The rudder is used mainly to balance the aircraft in turns, or to compensate for winds or other effects that tend to turn the aircraft about the yaw axis. Several aircraft including the Ercoupe dispensed with rudder pedals by linking the rudders to the ailerons for simplicity.
  • A Throttle
    Throttle
    A throttle is the mechanism by which the flow of a fluid is managed by constriction or obstruction. An engine's power can be increased or decreased by the restriction of inlet gases , but usually decreased. The term throttle has come to refer, informally and incorrectly, to any mechanism by which...

    or thrust lever
    Thrust lever
    Thrust levers are found in the cockpit of aircraft, and are used by the pilot, copilot, or autopilot to control the power output of the aircraft's engines....

    for each engine. These control the power produced by the engines and hence airspeed. On piston-engine powered aircraft Engine Mixture Control levers will also be present.
  • Brake
    Brake
    A brake is a mechanical device which inhibits motion. Its opposite component is a clutch. The rest of this article is dedicated to various types of vehicular brakes....

    s,
    used to slow and stop the aircraft on the ground, and sometimes for turns on the ground.

These were largely standardized during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 - prior to which many aircraft manufacturers had their own systems.

Other controls can include:
  • Flap
    Flap (aircraft)
    Flaps are normally hinged surfaces mounted on the trailing edges of the wings of a fixed-wing aircraft to reduce the speed an aircraft can be safely flown at and to increase the angle of descent for landing without increasing air speed. They shorten takeoff and landing distances as well as...

     levers,
    which are used to control the position of flaps on the wings.
  • Spoiler
    Spoiler (aeronautics)
    In aeronautics, a spoiler is a device intended to reduce lift in an aircraft. Spoilers are plates on the top surface of a wing which can be extended upward into the airflow and spoil it. By doing so, the spoiler creates a carefully controlled stall over the portion of the wing behind it, greatly...

     levers,
    which are used to control the position of spoilers on the wings, and to arm their automatic deployment in aircraft designed to deploy them upon landing. The spoilers reduce lift for landing.
  • Trim controls, which usually take the form of knobs or wheels and are used to adjust pitch, roll, or yaw trim. These are often connected to small airfoils on the trail edge of the control surfaces called 'trim tabs'. Trim is used to reduce the amount of pressure on the control forces needed to maintain a steady course.
  • A tiller, a small wheel or lever used to steer the aircraft on the ground in conjunction with or instead of the rudder pedals (primarily found on larger aircraft).
  • Undercarriage retraction levers, to raise or lower the undercarriage, for reduced drag while in flight.
  • A parking brake, used to prevent the aircraft from rolling when it is parked on the ground.


The controls may allow full or partial automation of flight, such as an autopilot
Autopilot
An autopilot is a mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic system used to guide a vehicle without assistance from a human being. An autopilot can refer specifically to aircraft, self-steering gear for boats, or auto guidance of space craft and missiles...

, a wing leveler, or a flight management system
Flight management system
A flight management system is a fundamental part of a modern airliner's avionics. An FMS is a specialized computer system that automates a wide variety of in-flight tasks, reducing the workload on the flight crew to the point that modern aircraft no longer carry flight engineers or navigators. A...

. Pilots adjust these controls to select a specific attitude or mode of flight, and then the associated automation maintains that attitude or mode until the pilot disables the automation or changes the settings. In general, the larger and/or more complex the aircraft, the greater the amount of automation available to pilots.

On an aircraft with a pilot and copilot, or instructor and trainee, the aircraft is made capable of control without the crew changing seats. The most common arrangement is two complete sets of controls, one for each of two pilots sitting side by side, but in some aircraft (military fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

, some taildraggers and aerobatic
Aerobatics
Aerobatics is the practice of flying maneuvers involving aircraft attitudes that are not used in normal flight. Aerobatics are performed in airplanes and gliders for training, recreation, entertainment and sport...

 aircraft) the dual sets of controls are arranged one in front of the other (in tandem
Tandem
Tandem is an arrangement where a team of machines, animals or people are lined up one behind another, all facing in the same direction....

). A few of the less important controls may not be present in both positions, and one position is usually intended for the pilot in command (e.g., the left "captain's seat" in jet airliners). Some small aircraft use controls that can be moved from one position to another, such as a single yoke that can be swung into position in front of either the left-seat pilot or the right-seat pilot (e.g., Beechcraft Bonanza
Beechcraft Bonanza
The Beechcraft Bonanza is an American general aviation aircraft introduced in 1947 by The Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. , it is still being produced by Hawker Beechcraft, and has been in continuous production longer than any other airplane in history...

).

Aircraft that require more than one pilot usually have controls and displays intended to suit each pilot position, but still with sufficient duplication so that any of the pilots can fly the aircraft alone in an emergency. For example, in jet airliners, the controls on the left (captain's) side include both the basic controls and those normally manipulated by the pilot in command
Pilot in command
The pilot in command of an aircraft is the person aboard the aircraft who is ultimately responsible for its operation and safety during flight. This would be the "captain" in a typical two- or three-pilot flight crew, or "pilot" if there is only one certified and qualified pilot at the controls of...

, such as the tiller, whereas those of the right (first officer's) side include the basic controls again and those normally manipulated by the copilot, such as flap levers. The unduplicated controls that are required for flight are positioned so that they can be reached by either pilot, but they are often designed to be more convenient to the pilot who manipulates them under normal conditions.

An unmanned aircraft
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

 is controlled remotely or via means such as gyroscopes or other forms of autonomous control.

Instruments


Instruments provide information to the pilot and the co-pilot. Flight instruments
Flight instruments
Flight instruments are the instruments in the cockpit of an aircraft that provide the pilot with information about the flight situation of that aircraft, such as height, speed and altitude...

provide information about the aircraft's speed, direction, altitude, and orientation. Powerplant instruments provide information about the status of the aircraft's engines
Aircraft engine
An aircraft engine is the component of the propulsion system for an aircraft that generates mechanical power. Aircraft engines are almost always either lightweight piston engines or gas turbines...

 and APU
Auxiliary power unit
An auxiliary power unit is a device on a vehicle that provides energy for functions other than propulsion. They are commonly found on large aircraft, as well as some large land vehicles.-Function:...

. Systems instruments provide information about the aircraft's other systems, such as fuel delivery, electrical, and pressurisation. Navigation and communication instruments include all the aircraft's radios. Instruments may operate mechanically or electrically, requiring 12VDC, 24VDC, or 400 Hz power systems. An aircraft that uses computerised CRT or LCD displays almost exclusively is said to have a glass cockpit
Glass cockpit
A glass cockpit is an aircraft cockpit that features electronic instrument displays, typically large LCD screens, as opposed to the traditional style of analog dials and gauges...

.


The Six Basic instruments (sometimes referred to as the six pack) include:
  • An Airspeed Indicator
    Airspeed indicator
    The airspeed indicator or airspeed gauge is an instrument used in an aircraft to display the craft's airspeed, typically in knots, to the pilot.- Use :...

    ,
    which indicates the speed at which the aircraft is moving through the surrounding air.
  • An Altimeter
    Altimeter
    An altimeter is an instrument used to measure the altitude of an object above a fixed level. The measurement of altitude is called altimetry, which is related to the term bathymetry, the measurement of depth underwater.-Pressure altimeter:...

    ,
    which indicates the altitude or height of the aircraft above mean sea level.
  • A Heading indicator
    Heading indicator
    The heading indicator is a flight instrument used in an aircraft to inform the pilot of the aircraft's heading. It is sometimes referred to by its older names, the directional gyro or DG, and also direction indicator or DI.- Use :The primary means of establishing the heading in most small...

    ,
    (sometimes referred to as a "directional gyro (DG)"), which indicates the magnetic compass heading that the aircraft's fuselage is pointing towards. The actual direction the aircraft is flying towards is affected by the wind conditions.
  • An Attitude indicator
    Attitude indicator
    An attitude indicator , also known as gyro horizon or artificial horizon, is an instrument used in an aircraft to inform the pilot of the orientation of the aircraft relative to earth. It indicates pitch and bank or roll and is a primary instrument for flight in instrument meteorological conditions...

    ,
    sometimes called an artificial horizon, which indicates the exact orientation of the aircraft about its pitch and roll axes.
  • A Vertical Speed Indicator, which shows the rate at which the aircraft is climbing or descending.
  • A Turn Coordinator
    Turn coordinator
    The turn coordinator is a flight instrument which displays to a pilot information about the rate of yaw , roll, and the coordination of the turn...

    ,
    or Turn and Bank Indicator which helps the pilot maintain the aircraft in a coordinated attitude while turning.


Other Instruments might include:
  • A 2-Way Radio
    Radio
    Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

    to enable communications with other aircraft and Air Traffic Control
    Air traffic control
    Air traffic control is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and in the air. The primary purpose of ATC systems worldwide is to separate aircraft to prevent collisions, to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide information and other...

    . Aircraft before World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     may not have been equipped with a radio but they are nearly essential now.
  • A horizontal situation indicator
    Horizontal Situation Indicator
    The horizontal situation indicator is an aircraft instrument normally mounted below the artificial horizon in place of a conventional heading indicator. It combines a heading indicator with a VOR/ILS display, reducing pilot workload by lessening the number of elements in the pilot's instrument...

    ,
    shows the position and movement of the aircraft as seen from above with respect to the ground, including course/heading and other information.
  • Instruments showing the status of each engine in the aircraft (operating speed, thrust, temperature, rpms, and other variables).
  • Combined display systems such as primary flight display
    Primary flight display
    A primary flight display or PFD is a modern aircraft instrument dedicated to flight information. Much like multi-function displays, primary flight displays are built around an LCD or CRT display device...

    s
    or navigation displays.
  • Information displays such as on-board weather radar
    Weather radar
    Weather radar, also called weather surveillance radar and Doppler weather radar, is a type of radar used to locate precipitation, calculate its motion, estimate its type . Modern weather radars are mostly pulse-Doppler radars, capable of detecting the motion of rain droplets in addition to the...

    displays.
  • A Radio Direction Finder
    Radio direction finder
    A radio direction finder is a device for finding the direction to a radio source. Due to low frequency propagation characteristic to travel very long distances and "over the horizon", it makes a particularly good navigation system for ships, small boats, and aircraft that might be some distance...

    which indicates the direction to one or more radio beacons and which can be used to determine the aircraft's position.
  • A Global Positioning System
    Global Positioning System
    The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

    which works the same as the previous instrument, but communicates with a variety of satellites automatically to provide an accurate position.

Design and construction


Most aircraft are constructed by companies with the objective of producing them in quantity for customers. The design and planning process, including safety tests, can last up to four years for small turboprops, and up to 12 years for aircraft with the capacity of the A380.

During this process, the objectives and design specifications of the aircraft are established. First the construction company uses drawings and equations, simulations, wind tunnel tests and experience to predict the behavior of the aircraft. Computers are used by companies to draw, plan and do initial simulations of the aircraft. Small models and mockups of all or certain parts of the aircraft are then tested in wind tunnels to verify the aerodynamics of the aircraft.

When the design has passed through these processes, the company constructs a limited number of these aircraft for testing on the ground. Representatives from an aviation governing agency often make a first flight. The flight tests continue until the aircraft has fulfilled all the requirements. Then, the governing public agency of aviation of the country authorises the company to begin production of the aircraft.

In the United States, this agency is the Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...

 (FAA), and in the European Union, Joint Aviation Authorities
Joint Aviation Authorities
The Joint Aviation Authorities, or JAA, was an associated body of the ECAC representing the civil aviation regulatory authorities of a number of European States who had agreed to co-operate in developing and implementing common safety regulatory standards and procedures...

 (JAA). In Canada, the public agency in charge and authorising the mass production of aircraft is Transport Canada
Transport Canada
Transport Canada is the department within the government of Canada which is responsible for developing regulations, policies and services of transportation in Canada. It is part of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities portfolio...

.

In the case of the international sales of aircraft, a license from the public agency of aviation or transports of the country where the aircraft is also to be used is necessary. For example, aircraft from Airbus need to be certified by the FAA to be flown in the United States and vice versa, aircraft of Boeing need to be approved by the JAA to be flown in the European Union.

Quieter aircraft are becoming more and more needed due to the increase in air traffic, particularly over urban areas, as aircraft noise
Aircraft noise
Aircraft noise is noise pollution produced by any aircraft or its components, during various phases of a flight: on the ground while parked such as auxiliary power units, while taxiing, on run-up from propeller and jet exhaust, during take off, underneath and lateral to departure and arrival paths,...

 pollution is a major concern.

Small aircraft can be designed and constructed by amateurs as homebuilts. Other homebuilt aircraft
Homebuilt aircraft
Also known as amateur-built aircraft or kit planes, homebuilt aircraft are constructed by persons for whom this is not a professional activity. These aircraft may be constructed from "scratch," from plans, or from assembly kits.-Overview:...

 can be assembled using pre-manufactured kits of parts that can be assembled into a basic aircraft and must then be completed by the builder.

There are few companies that produce aircraft on a large scale. However, the production of an aircraft for one company is a process that actually involves dozens, or even hundreds, of other companies and plants, that produce the parts that go into the aircraft. For example, one company can be responsible for the production of the landing gear, while another one is responsible for the radar. The production of such parts is not limited to the same city or country; in the case of large aircraft manufacturing companies, such parts can come from all over the world.

The parts are sent to the main plant of the aircraft company, where the production line is located. In the case of large aircraft, production lines dedicated to the assembly of certain parts of the aircraft can exist, especially the wings and the fuselage.

When complete, an aircraft is rigorously inspected to search for imperfections and defects. After approval by inspectors, the aircraft is put through a series of flight test
Flight test
Flight test is a branch of aeronautical engineering that develops and gathers data during flight of an aircraft and then analyzes the data to evaluate the flight characteristics of the aircraft and validate its design, including safety aspects...

s to assure that all systems are working correctly and that the aircraft handles properly. Upon passing these tests, the aircraft is ready to receive the "final touchups" (internal configuration, painting, etc.), and is then ready for the customer.

Safety


When risk is measured by deaths per passenger kilometer, air travel is approximately 10 times safer than travel by bus or rail. However, when using the deaths per journey statistic, air travel is significantly more dangerous than car, rail, or bus travel. Air travel insurance is relatively expensive for this reason- insurers generally use the deaths per journey statistic. There is a significant difference between the safety of airliners and that of smaller private aircraft, with the per-mile statistic indicating that airliners are 8.3 times safer than smaller aircraft.

Overall layout



This section discusses the number of wings, which is commonly used means of distinguishing different types. A wing is a single unit that runs from one extremity (called a wingtip) to another. Any interruptions caused by a fuselage or engine is ignored for this purpose. This single wing unit generates lift by creating a high pressure area under it, and a low pressure area above it. When these meet at the wingtips, they mix (much like the water going down a drain), causing considerable drag. The more wings, and hence wingtips, an aircraft has, the more of this type of drag (Induced Drag) is created and so having the least number of wings possible is always the most efficient solution - however there are cases where more than one wing has been necessary.

Aside from the number of wings, the shape the wing forms when seen from above is also used as a distinguishing characteristic.

Monoplane




A monoplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with one main set of wing surfaces, in contrast to a biplane
Biplane
A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two superimposed main wings. The Wright brothers' Wright Flyer used a biplane design, as did most aircraft in the early years of aviation. While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage, it produces more drag than a similar monoplane wing...

 or triplane
Triplane
A triplane is a fixed-wing aircraft equipped with three vertically-stacked wing planes. Tailplanes and canard foreplanes are not normally included in this count, although they may occasionally be.-Design principles:...

. Since the late 1930s it has been the most common form for a fixed wing aircraft. The earliest monoplanes were braced with wires running outside the wing, however lack of knowledge concerning the stresses a wing was subject to resulted in many failures, and in the United Kingdom
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 the Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
The Royal Flying Corps was the over-land air arm of the British military during most of the First World War. During the early part of the war, the RFC's responsibilities were centred on support of the British Army, via artillery co-operation and photographic reconnaissance...

 banned their use.

The airfoil sections in use at the time were very thin, and could not have a cantilever structure installed within and so attempts were made to provide a stronger structure by adding an external truss - structurally a biplane, but lacking the lower wing. Unfortunately this adds a lot of drag. Junkers
Junkers
Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke AG , more commonly Junkers, was a major German aircraft manufacturer. It produced some of the world's most innovative and best-known airplanes over the course of its fifty-plus year history in Dessau, Germany. It was founded there in 1895 by Hugo Junkers,...

 began experimenting with thicker airfoils, which had previously been ignored as being unlikely to be efficient. With the thicker airfoil
Airfoil
An airfoil or aerofoil is the shape of a wing or blade or sail as seen in cross-section....

s, a cantilever
Cantilever
A cantilever is a beam anchored at only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is resisted by moment and shear stress. Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing. Cantilevers can also be constructed with trusses or slabs.This is in...

 structure contained entirely within the wing was possible, and it had the added bonus that thick airfoils were more efficient than the thin ones previously in use. The defeat of Germany (where all of the research into cantilever monoplanes was occurring) and conservatism in the aviation industry ensured that biplanes would continue to dominate for the next 20 years.

Monoplanes can be differentiated in where the wings attach to the fuselage
Fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

:
The actual point of attachment is called the wing root.
  • low-wing, the wing lower surface is level with (or below) the bottom of the fuselage
  • mid-wing, the wing is mounted mid-way up the fuselage
  • shoulder wing
    Shoulder wing
    A shoulder wing is a monoplane aircraft wing configuration in which the wing is mounted near the top of the fuselage, but not on the top....

    , the wing is mounted above the fuselage middle
  • high-wing, the wing upper surface is level with or above the top of the fuselage
  • parasol-wing
    Parasol wing
    A parasol wing monoplane is an aircraft design in which the wing is not mounted directly to the fuselage, but rather, the fuselage is supported beneath it by a set of struts, called cabane struts...

    , the wing is located above the fuselage with structural support being typically provided by a system of strut
    Strut
    A strut is a structural component designed to resist longitudinal compression. Struts provide outwards-facing support in their lengthwise direction, which can be used to keep two other components separate, performing the opposite function of a tie...

    s, and, especially in the case of older aircraft, wire bracing. These were particularly popular in the late 1920s and 1930s.

  • gull wing
    Gull wing
    The gull wing is an aircraft's wing configuration with a prominent bend in the wing somewhere along the span, generally near the wing root. Its name is derived from the seabirds which it resembles. It has been incorporated in aircraft for many reasons....

    is similar to a parasol wing, but has the roots of the wing drop down to pass the structure through the fuselage reducing the number of struts needed. A variant of the gull wing is the inverted gull wing, in which the lower wing takes the form of a "W" from the front, with the middle peak attached to the fuselage. This has the advantages of shortening the undercarriage, and simplifying the wing root design and was most famously used on the Vought F4U Corsair of World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    .


Biplanes



A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two superimposed main wings. The Wright brothers'
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

 Wright Flyer
Wright Flyer
The Wright Flyer was the first powered aircraft, designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903 near the Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U.S.The U.S...

 used a biplane design, as did most aircraft in the early years of aviation
Aviation
Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

. The primary reason many early aircraft were biplanes was that it had a structural advantage over the monoplanes, since both wings formed a Pratt truss, which was immensely strong, however both the struts, and the extra lifting surface produced more drag and thus tended to be slower. Some later biplanes replaced the Pratt truss with a Warren truss
Warren Truss
Warren Errol Truss , Australian politician, is the current leader of the National Party of Australia in the Parliament of Australia. He has held the House of Representatives seat of Wide Bay since the 1990 election...

 which reduced the drag associated with the struts, however it wasn't enough to keep it competitive with cantilever
Cantilever
A cantilever is a beam anchored at only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is resisted by moment and shear stress. Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing. Cantilevers can also be constructed with trusses or slabs.This is in...

 monoplanes which superseded it for most purposes in the late 1930s. Its compact span for a given lifting area allows for great maneuverability and it is still used for aerobatics
Aerobatics
Aerobatics is the practice of flying maneuvers involving aircraft attitudes that are not used in normal flight. Aerobatics are performed in airplanes and gliders for training, recreation, entertainment and sport...

 aircraft and crop dusting. A sesquiplane is a specific type of biplane, where the (usually) lower wing is significantly smaller than the upper wing.

Triplanes and Multiplanes




A triplane is a fixed-wing aircraft equipped with three vertically-stacked wing planes. Tailplanes and canard
Canard (aeronautics)
In aeronautics, canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing...

 foreplanes are not included in this count unless they overlap with other wings, nor usually are airfoil fairing on axles. Only a very small number of triplanes were ever built, but the format does have the advantage of allowing an aircraft a high degree of maneuverability combined with a very good climb rate. Due to the drag however, as with biplanes, this type is obsolete and almost never used anymore except for recreations of early triplanes, such as the Fokker Dr.I
Fokker Dr.I
The Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker was a World War I fighter aircraft built by Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. The Dr.I saw widespread service in the spring of 1918...

 and Sopwith Triplane
Sopwith Triplane
The Sopwith Triplane was a British single seat fighter aircraft designed and manufactured by the Sopwith Aviation Company during the First World War. Pilots nicknamed it the Tripehound or simply the Tripe. The Triplane became operational with the Royal Naval Air Service in early 1917 and was...

. A multiplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with more than three wings, but is a rarely used format as all of the disadvantages of the triplane are even more pronounced.

Canard



Canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing. In contrast a conventional aircraft has a small horizontal stabilizer behind the main wing.

Canard designs fall into two main classes: the lifting-canard and the control-canard. In the lifting canard the weight of the aircraft is shared between the main wing and the canard wing. In the control-canard, most of the weight of the aircraft is carried by the main wing and the canard wing is used primarily for longitudinal control during maneuvering. Thus, a control-canard mostly operates only as a control surface and is usually at zero angle of attack
Angle of attack
Angle of attack is a term used in fluid dynamics to describe the angle between a reference line on a lifting body and the vector representing the relative motion between the lifting body and the fluid through which it is moving...

.

Tandem wing



A tandem wing
Tandem wing
thumb|right|QAC Quickie Q2A tandem wing aircraft usually involves two full-sized wings, both of which are full airfoils. Sometimes an aircraft of this configuration can look like a variation on the biplane, but is in fact very different. The forward wing is often technically a canard, fitted with...

 aircraft is a fixed wing aircraft with two sets of wings, arranged one in front of the other rather than overlapping each other. NASA research has shown that they must be of different lifting characteristics otherwise a severe oscillation will develop, which has limited their use. A tandem wing can be distinguished from a canard by the location of the pitch controls (elevators) on the rear flying surface. A tandem wing may have the front wing larger than the rear, or the reverse. They have the advantage of normally using fewer struts than biplanes, but the induced drag of having multiple wings is still present, though interactions between the wings may reduce this over a conventional biplane.

Flying wing



A flying wing
Flying wing
A flying wing is a tailless fixed-wing aircraft which has no definite fuselage, with most of the crew, payload and equipment being housed inside the main wing structure....

 is a tailless
Tailless aircraft
A tailless aircraft traditionally has all its horizontal control surfaces on its main wing surface. It has no horizontal stabilizer - either tailplane or canard foreplane . A 'tailless' type usually still has a vertical stabilising fin and control surface...

 fixed-wing aircraft which has no definite fuselage
Fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

, with most of the crew, payload and equipment being housed inside the main wing structure.

The flying wing configuration was studied extensively in the 1930s and 1940s, notably by Jack Northrop and Cheston L. Eshelman in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and Alexander Lippisch
Alexander Lippisch
Alexander Martin Lippisch was a German pioneer of aerodynamics. He made important contributions to the understanding of flying wings, delta wings and the ground effect. His most famous design is the Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket-powered interceptor.Lippisch was born in Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria...

 and the Horten brothers
Horten brothers
Walter Horten and Reimar Horten , sometimes credited as the Horten Brothers, were German aircraft pilots and enthusiasts, and members of the Hitler Youth and Nazi party...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

.
After the war, a number of experimental designs were based on the flying wing concept, but the known difficulties remained intractable. Some general interest continued until the early 1950s but designs did not necessarily offer a great advantage in range and presented a number of technical problems, leading to the adoption of "conventional" solutions like the Convair B-36
Convair B-36
The Convair B-36 "Peacemaker" was a strategic bomber built by Convair and operated solely by the United States Air Force from 1949 to 1959. The B-36 was the largest mass-produced piston engine aircraft ever made. It had the longest wingspan of any combat aircraft ever built , although there have...

 and the B-52 Stratofortress
B-52 Stratofortress
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force since the 1950s. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, who have continued to provide maintainence and upgrades to the aircraft in service...

. Due to the practical need for a deep wing, the flying wing concept is most practical for designs in the slow-to-medium speed range, and there has been continual interest in using it as a tactical airlift
Airlift
Airlift is the act of transporting people or cargo from point to point using aircraft.Airlift may also refer to:*Airlift , a suction device for moving sand and silt underwater-See also:...

er design.

Interest in flying wings was renewed in the 1980s due to their potentially low radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 reflection cross-sections. Stealth technology
Stealth technology
Stealth technology also termed LO technology is a sub-discipline of military tactics and passive electronic countermeasures, which cover a range of techniques used with personnel, aircraft, ships, submarines, and missiles, to make them less visible to radar, infrared, sonar and other detection...

 relies on shapes which only reflect radar waves in certain directions, thus making the aircraft hard to detect unless the radar receiver is at a specific position relative to the aircraft - a position that changes continuously as the aircraft moves. This approach eventually led to the Northrop B-2 Spirit
B-2 Spirit
The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is an American heavy bomber with low observable stealth technology designed to penetrate dense anti-aircraft defenses and deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. The bomber has a crew of two and can drop up to eighty -class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen ...

 stealth
Stealth aircraft
Stealth aircraft are aircraft that use stealth technology to avoid detection by employing a combination of features to interfere with radar as well as reduce visibility in the infrared, visual, audio, and radio frequency spectrum. Development of stealth technology likely began in Germany during...

 bomber. In this case the aerodynamic advantages of the flying wing are not the primary needs. However, modern computer-controlled fly-by-wire
Fly-by-wire
Fly-by-wire is a system that replaces the conventional manual flight controls of an aircraft with an electronic interface. The movements of flight controls are converted to electronic signals transmitted by wires , and flight control computers determine how to move the actuators at each control...

 systems allowed for many of the aerodynamic drawbacks of the flying wing to be minimised, making for an efficient and stable long-range bomber.

Blended




Blended Wing Body aircraft have a flattened and airfoil shaped body, which produces most of the lift to keep itself aloft, and distinct and separate wing structures, though the wings are smoothly blended in with the body.

Thus BWB incorporates design features from both a futuristic fuselage and flying wing design. The purported advantages of the BWB approach are efficient high-lift wings and a wide airfoil
Airfoil
An airfoil or aerofoil is the shape of a wing or blade or sail as seen in cross-section....

-shaped body. This enables the entire craft to contribute to lift
Lift (force)
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

 generation with the result of potentially increased fuel economy.

Lifting body




A lifting body is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration in which the body itself produces lift
Lift (force)
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...

. In contrast to a flying wing
Flying wing
A flying wing is a tailless fixed-wing aircraft which has no definite fuselage, with most of the crew, payload and equipment being housed inside the main wing structure....

, which is a wing with minimal or no conventional fuselage
Fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

, a lifting body can be thought of as a fuselage with little or no conventional wing. Whereas a flying wing seeks to maximize cruise efficiency at subsonic speeds by eliminating non-lifting surfaces, lifting bodies generally minimize the drag and structure of a wing for subsonic, supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

, and hypersonic
Hypersonic
In aerodynamics, a hypersonic speed is one that is highly supersonic. Since the 1970s, the term has generally been assumed to refer to speeds of Mach 5 and above...

 flight, or, spacecraft
Spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 re-entry
Re-Entry
"Re-Entry" was the second album released by UK R&B / Hip Hop collective Big Brovaz. After the album was delayed in May 2006, the band finally release the follow-up to "Nu Flow" on 9 April 2007...

. All of these flight regimes pose challenges for proper flight stability.

Lifting bodies were a major area of research in the 1960s and 70s as a means to build a small and lightweight manned spacecraft. The US built a number of famous lifting body rocket planes to test the concept, as well as several rocket-launched re-entry vehicles that were tested over the Pacific. Interest waned as the US Air Force lost interest in the manned mission, and major development ended during the Space Shuttle design process when it became clear that the highly shaped fuselages made it difficult to fit fuel tankage.


Straight Wing


A straight wing is a wing planform in which the centre of lift across the wing forms a straight line from wingtip to wingtip, or nearly so. This was the dominant form of wing until early transsonic aircraft adopted swept wings to reduce transsonic drag. Modern fighters were able to readopt straight wings thanks to advances in both aircraft structures and aerodynamic high lift devices.

Swept Wing


A swept wing is a wing planform is which the wings are angled backwards so that the tips are closer to the tail than the roots, resembling an arrow. This was done to reduce the drag associated when approaching supersonic speeds and is the form primarily used on airliners and other jet trasnports. A variant of the swept wing is the forward swept wing in which the wings are angled forwards. This has serious structural implications and so hasn't been used very much, but has been tried because a regular swept wing has poor stall characteristics. When an aircraft's lift is less than what is required for it to continue flying and stalls
Stall (flight)
In fluid dynamics, a stall is a reduction in the lift coefficient generated by a foil as angle of attack increases. This occurs when the critical angle of attack of the foil is exceeded...

, ideally the nose should drop, which allows the aircraft to regain flying speed. In a swept wing aircraft, the normal result of a stall is for the nose to go up, making recovery difficult.

Variable geometry



Variable geometry aircraft are 'fixed wing' aircraft where the wing configuration can be changed in flight.

A variable-sweep wing is an aeroplane wing that may be swept back and then returned to its original position during flight. While variable-sweep provides many advantages, particularly in takeoff distance, load-carrying ability, and the fast, low-level penetration role, the configuration imposes a considerable penalty in weight and complexity. The advent of relaxed stability
Relaxed stability
In aviation, relaxed stability is the tendency of an aircraft to change its attitude and angle of bank of its own accord. An aircraft with relaxed stability will oscillate in simple harmonic motion around a particular attitude at an increasing amplitude....

 flight control systems in the 1970s negated many of the disadvantages of a fixed platform. No new variable-sweep wing aircraft have been built since the Tu-160 (1980).
Variable camber wing
Variable camber wing
Variable camber wing is a design of aircraft wing by Vincent Burnelli that changes the camber of the airfoil , and varies the area and camber of the wing .A mechanism moves and rotates the leading and trailing edge to gain camber and wing area....

s
aircraft changes the camber
Camber (aerodynamics)
Camber, in aeronautics and aeronautical engineering, is the asymmetry between the top and the bottom surfaces of an aerofoil. An aerofoil that is not cambered is called a symmetric aerofoil...

 of the airfoil
Airfoil
An airfoil or aerofoil is the shape of a wing or blade or sail as seen in cross-section....

 (1933), and varies the area and camber of the wing (1937). The various flaps
Flap (aircraft)
Flaps are normally hinged surfaces mounted on the trailing edges of the wings of a fixed-wing aircraft to reduce the speed an aircraft can be safely flown at and to increase the angle of descent for landing without increasing air speed. They shorten takeoff and landing distances as well as...

 and slats
Leading edge slats
Slats are aerodynamic surfaces on the leading edge of the wings of fixed-wing aircraft which, when deployed, allow the wing to operate at a higher angle of attack. A higher coefficient of lift is produced as a result of angle of attack and speed, so by deploying slats an aircraft can fly at slower...

 on the control surfaces of modern commercial airliners perform a similar function.

A variable-incidence wing
Variable-incidence wing
A variable-incidence wing has an adjustable angle of incidence in order to reduce landing and take-off distances. It was patented in France on May 20, 1912 by Bulgarian inventor George Boginoff....

has an adjustable angle of incidence
Angle of incidence
Angle of incidence is a measure of deviation of something from "straight on", for example:* in the approach of a ray to a surface, or* the angle at which the wing or horizontal tail of an airplane is installed on the fuselage, measured relative to the axis of the fuselage.-Optics:In geometric...

 (the angle between the wing and the fuselage) in order to reduce landing and take-off distances.

The necessary components add extra weight to the aircraft and increase maintenance costs. In some aircraft the benefits outweigh the costs, and variable-incidence functionality is incorporated into the design, most notably with the F-8 Crusader
F-8 Crusader
The Vought F-8 Crusader was a single-engine, supersonic, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft built by Vought for the United States Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, replacing the Vought F7U Cutlass...

, although other designs have used it, such as the Martin XB-51
Martin XB-51
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Andrade, John M. U.S. Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909. Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1979. ISBN 0-904597-22-9....

. No modern aircraft has used this design since the F-8.

An oblique wing
Oblique wing
An oblique wing is a variable geometry wing concept. On an aircraft so equipped, the wing is designed to rotate on center pivot, so that one tip is swept forward while the opposite tip is swept aft...

(also called a slew wing) is a variable geometry wing
Swing-wing
A variable-sweep wing is an aeroplane wing that may be swept back and then returned to its original position during flight. It allows the aircraft's planform to be modified in flight, and is therefore an example of a variable-geometry aircraft....

 concept. On an aircraft so equipped, the wing is designed to rotate on center pivot, so that one tip is swept forward while the opposite tip is swept aft. By changing its sweep angle in this way, drag
Drag (physics)
In fluid dynamics, drag refers to forces which act on a solid object in the direction of the relative fluid flow velocity...

 can be reduced at high speed (with the wing swept) without sacrificing low speed performance (with the wing perpendicular).

Delta Wing




The delta wing is a wing planform in the form of a triangle. It is named for its similarity in shape to the Greek uppercase letter delta
Delta (letter)
Delta is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 4. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Dalet...

 (Δ) and has many advantages over other configurations. The delta wing has more internal volume to carry fuel or internal weapons than a wing of a similar thickness to chord ratio, while also allowing wing loading
Wing loading
In aerodynamics, wing loading is the loaded weight of the aircraft divided by the area of the wing. The faster an aircraft flies, the more lift is produced by each unit area of wing, so a smaller wing can carry the same weight in level flight, operating at a higher wing loading. Correspondingly,...

 to be reduced for the amount of drag produced in level flight. If its leading edge is raked back enough, it will escape the shock wave
Shock wave
A shock wave is a type of propagating disturbance. Like an ordinary wave, it carries energy and can propagate through a medium or in some cases in the absence of a material medium, through a field such as the electromagnetic field...

 formed at the nose of the aircraft as transonic
Transonic
Transonic speed is an aeronautics term referring to the condition of flight in which a range of velocities of airflow exist surrounding and flowing past an air vehicle or an airfoil that are concurrently below, at, and above the speed of sound in the range of Mach 0.8 to 1.2, i.e. 600–900 mph...

 speeds are reached, reducing drag considerably, and the center of lift moves less than on conventionally configured aircraft, reducing trim drag. As the angle of attack
Angle of attack
Angle of attack is a term used in fluid dynamics to describe the angle between a reference line on a lifting body and the vector representing the relative motion between the lifting body and the fluid through which it is moving...

 increases, the leading edge of the wing generates a vortex
Vortex
A vortex is a spinning, often turbulent,flow of fluid. Any spiral motion with closed streamlines is vortex flow. The motion of the fluid swirling rapidly around a center is called a vortex...

 which smooths the airflow, giving the delta a very high stall angle at the cost of high induced drag which allows a larger range in speed than a conventional wing intended for high speed flight. Pure delta-wings fell out of favour somewhat due to poor gust response characteristics at low altitudes (they get bounced around a lot and so must fly slower and higher) and advances in high lift devices, however many of the advantages have been retained by use of leading edge root extensions, which act in the same manner and many modern fighter aircraft, such as the JAS 39 Gripen
JAS 39 Gripen
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a lightweight single-engine multirole fighter manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. It was designed to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force...

 and the Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986...

 use a delta wing, often in conjunction with a canard
Canard (aeronautics)
In aeronautics, canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing...

.

Propulsion


Fixed-wing aircraft can be sub-divided according to the means of propulsion they use.

Unpowered fixed-wing aircraft




Gliders are fixed-wing aircraft that are intended primarily for unpowered flight
Unpowered flight
Unpowered flight is the ability to stay airborne for a period of time without using any power source. There are several types of unpowered flight. Some have been exploited by nature, others by man, and some by both....

. Sailplanes
Glider (sailplane)
A glider or sailplane is a type of glider aircraft used in the sport of gliding. Some gliders, known as motor gliders are used for gliding and soaring as well, but have engines which can, in some cases, be used for take-off or for extending a flight...

, hang gliders, and paragliders are gliders used mainly for recreation. After launch, further energy is obtained through the skillful exploitation of rising air
Lift (soaring)
Gliding flight is heavier-than-air flight without the use of thrust. It is employed by gliding animals and by aircraft such as gliders. The most common human application of gliding flight is in sport and recreation using aircraft designed for this purpose...

 in the atmosphere. Gliders that are used for the sport of gliding
Gliding
Gliding is a recreational activity and competitive air sport in which pilots fly unpowered aircraft known as gliders or sailplanes using naturally occurring currents of rising air in the atmosphere to remain airborne. The word soaring is also used for the sport.Gliding as a sport began in the 1920s...

 have high aerodynamic efficiency. The highest lift-to-drag ratio
Lift-to-drag ratio
In aerodynamics, the lift-to-drag ratio, or L/D ratio, is the amount of lift generated by a wing or vehicle, divided by the drag it creates by moving through the air...

 is 70:1, though 50:1 is more common. Glider flights of thousands of kilometres at average speeds over 200 km/h have been achieved. The glider is most commonly launched by a tow-plane or by a winch. Some gliders, called motor glider
Motor glider
A motor glider is a fixed-wing aircraft that can be flown with or without engine power. The FAI Gliding Commission Sporting Code definition is: A fixed wing aerodyne equipped with a means of propulsion ,...

s, are equipped with engines (often retractable), and some are capable of self-launching. The most numerous unpowered aircraft are hang gliders and paragliders. These are foot-launched and are in general slower, smaller, and less expensive than sailplanes. Hang gliders most often have flexible wings given shape by a frame, though some have rigid wings. Paragliders have no frames in their wings. Military glider
Military glider
Military gliders have been used by the military of various countries for carrying troops and heavy equipment to a combat zone, mainly during the Second World War. These engineless aircraft were towed into the air and most of the way to their target by military transport planes, e.g...

s have been used in war to deliver assault troops, and specialised gliders have been used in atmospheric and aerodynamic
Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with studying the motion of air, particularly when it interacts with a moving object. Aerodynamics is a subfield of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, with much theory shared between them. Aerodynamics is often used synonymously with gas dynamics, with...

 research. Rocket-powered aircraft
Rocket-powered aircraft
A rocket-powered aircraft or rocket plane is an aircraft that uses a rocket for propulsion, sometimes in addition to airbreathing jet engines. Rocket planes can achieve much higher speeds than similarly sized jet aircraft, but typically for at most a few minutes of powered operation, followed by a...

 and spaceplane
Spaceplane
A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that...

s have also made unpowered landings.

Propeller aircraft


Smaller and older propeller aircraft make use of reciprocating engine
Reciprocating engine
A reciprocating engine, also often known as a piston engine, is a heat engine that uses one or more reciprocating pistons to convert pressure into a rotating motion. This article describes the common features of all types...

s (or piston engines) to turn a propeller
Propeller (aircraft)
Aircraft propellers or airscrews convert rotary motion from piston engines or turboprops to provide propulsive force. They may be fixed or variable pitch. Early aircraft propellers were carved by hand from solid or laminated wood with later propellers being constructed from metal...

 to create thrust. The amount of thrust a propeller creates is determined by its disk area - the area in which the blades rotate. If the area is too small, efficiency is poor, and if the area is large, the propeller must rotate at a very low speed to avoid going supersonic and creating a lot of noise, and not much thrust. Because of this limitation, propellers are favoured for aircraft which travel at below mach .5, while jets are a better choice above that speed. They may be quieter than jet engines (though not always) and may cost less to purchase maintain and so remain common on light general aviation aircraft such as the Cessna 172
Cessna 172
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single-engine, high-wing fixed-wing aircraft. First flown in 1955 and still in production, more Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft.-Design and development:...

. Larger modern propeller aircraft such as the Dash 8 use a jet engine to turn the propeller, primarily because an equivalent piston engine in power output would be much larger and more complex.

Jet aircraft


Jet aircraft
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

 are aircraft propelled by jet engine
Jet engine
A jet engine is a reaction engine that discharges a fast moving jet to generate thrust by jet propulsion and in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets, ramjets, pulse jets...

s, which are used because the aerodynamic limitations of propeller
Propeller
A propeller is a type of fan that transmits power by converting rotational motion into thrust. A pressure difference is produced between the forward and rear surfaces of the airfoil-shaped blade, and a fluid is accelerated behind the blade. Propeller dynamics can be modeled by both Bernoulli's...

s do not apply to jet propulsion. These engines are much more powerful than a reciprocating engine for a given size or weight and are comparatively quiet and work well at higher altitude. Most modern jet aircraft use turbofan
Turbofan
The turbofan is a type of airbreathing jet engine that is widely used for aircraft propulsion. A turbofan combines two types of engines, the turbo portion which is a conventional gas turbine engine, and the fan, a propeller-like ducted fan...

 jet engines which balance the advantages of a propeller, while retaining the exhaust speed and power of a jet. This is essentially a ducted propeller attached to a jet engine, much like a turboprop, but with a smaller diameter. When installed on an airliner, it is efficient so long as it remains below the speed of sound
Speed of sound
The speed of sound is the distance travelled during a unit of time by a sound wave propagating through an elastic medium. In dry air at , the speed of sound is . This is , or about one kilometer in three seconds or approximately one mile in five seconds....

 (or subsonic). Jet fighters and other supersonic aircraft
Supersonic aircraft
A supersonic aircraft is designed to exceed the speed of sound in at least some of its normal flight configurations.-Overview:The great majority of supersonic aircraft today are military or experimental aircraft...

 that do not spend a great deal of time supersonic also often use turbofans, but to function, air intake ducting is needed to slow the air down so that when it arrives at the front of the turbofan, it is subsonic. When passing through the engine, it is then re-accelerated back to supersonic speeds. To further boost the power output, fuel is dumped into the exhaust stream, where it ignites. This is called an afterburner
AfterBurner
The AfterBurner is a lighting solution for the Game Boy Advance system that was created by Triton-Labs.Originally, portablemonopoly.net was a website created to petition Nintendo to put some kind of light in their Game Boy Advance system...

 and has been used on both pure jet aircraft and turbojet aircraft although it is only normally used on combat aircraft due to the amount of fuel consumed, and even then may only be used for short periods of time. Supersonic airliners
Supersonic transport
A supersonic transport is a civilian supersonic aircraft designed to transport passengers at speeds greater than the speed of sound. The only SSTs to see regular service to date have been Concorde and the Tupolev Tu-144. The last passenger flight of the Tu-144 was in June 1978 with its last ever...

 (e.g. Concorde
Concorde
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport . It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation...

) are no longer in use largely because flight at supersonic speed creates a sonic boom
Sonic boom
A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves created by an object traveling through the air faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding much like an explosion...

 which is prohibited in most heavily populated areas, and because of the much higher consumption of fuel supersonic flight requires.

Jet aircraft possess high cruising speeds (700 to 900 km/h, or 400 to 550 mph) and high speeds for take-off and landing
Landing
thumb|A [[Mute Swan]] alighting. Note the ruffled feathers on top of the wings indicate that the swan is flying at the [[Stall |stall]]ing speed...

 (150 to 250 km/h). Due to the speed needed for takeoff and landing, jet aircraft use flaps
Flap (aircraft)
Flaps are normally hinged surfaces mounted on the trailing edges of the wings of a fixed-wing aircraft to reduce the speed an aircraft can be safely flown at and to increase the angle of descent for landing without increasing air speed. They shorten takeoff and landing distances as well as...

 and leading edge devices
Leading edge slats
Slats are aerodynamic surfaces on the leading edge of the wings of fixed-wing aircraft which, when deployed, allow the wing to operate at a higher angle of attack. A higher coefficient of lift is produced as a result of angle of attack and speed, so by deploying slats an aircraft can fly at slower...

 to control of lift and speed. Many also use thrust reversers to slow down the aircraft upon landing.

Solar-powered aircraft


Solar-powered aircraft use solar cell
Solar cell
A solar cell is a solid state electrical device that converts the energy of light directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect....

s to generate energy for electric motor
Electric motor
An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.Most electric motors operate through the interaction of magnetic fields and current-carrying conductors to generate force...

s which in turn drive propellers. On 8 July 2010, the manned Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse is a Swiss long-range solar powered plane project being undertaken at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg. The project eventually hopes to succeed in the first circling of the earth with a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar...

 became the first solar-powered aeroplane to fly through an entire night.

Rocket-powered aircraft


In World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Germans deployed the Me 163 Komet
Messerschmitt Me 163
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational. Its design was revolutionary, and the Me 163 was capable of performance unrivaled at the time. Messerschmitt...

 rocket-powered aircraft. The first fixed-wing aircraft to break the sound barrier
Sound barrier
The sound barrier, in aerodynamics, is the point at which an aircraft moves from transonic to supersonic speed. The term, which occasionally has other meanings, came into use during World War II, when a number of aircraft started to encounter the effects of compressibility, a collection of several...

 in level flight was a rocket plane – the Bell X-1
Bell X-1
The Bell X-1, originally designated XS-1, was a joint NACA-U.S. Army/US Air Force supersonic research project built by Bell Aircraft. Conceived in 1944 and designed and built over 1945, it eventually reached nearly 1,000 mph in 1948...

. The later North American X-15
North American X-15
The North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft/spaceplane was part of the X-series of experimental aircraft, initiated with the Bell X-1, that were made for the USAAF/USAF, NACA/NASA, and the USN. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and...

 broke many speed and altitude records
Flight altitude record
These are the records set for going the highest in the atmosphere from the age of ballooning onward. Some records are certified by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.-Fixed-wing aircraft:-Piston-driven propeller aeroplane:...

 and laid much of the groundwork for later aircraft and spacecraft design. Rocket aircraft are not in common usage today, although rocket-assisted take offs are used for some military aircraft. Recent rocket aircraft include the SpaceShipOne and the XCOR EZ-Rocket
XCOR EZ-Rocket
The XCOR EZ-Rocket is a test platform for the XCOR rocket propulsion system. The plane is a modified Rutan Long-EZ, with the propeller replaced by first one, then a pair of pressure-fed regeneratively cooled liquid-fuelled rocket engines and an underslung rocket-fuel tank. The engines are...

.

Ramjet aircraft and scramjet aircraft


A ramjet
Ramjet
A ramjet, sometimes referred to as a stovepipe jet, or an athodyd, is a form of airbreathing jet engine using the engine's forward motion to compress incoming air, without a rotary compressor. Ramjets cannot produce thrust at zero airspeed and thus cannot move an aircraft from a standstill...

 is a form of jet engine that contains no major moving parts and can be particularly useful in applications requiring a small and simple engine for high-speed use, such as missiles. The D-21 Tagboard was an Mach 3+ reconnaissance drone that was cancelled in 1971. The SR-71's engines ran 80% as ramjets at high speeds.

Scramjet
Scramjet
A scramjet is a variant of a ramjet airbreathing jet engine in which combustion takes place in supersonic airflow...

 aircraft are in the experimental stage. A scramjet has a very simple engine design. It works by air being forced into one side of a tube-like engine. That air is ignited by fuel, causing it to come out hotter and faster on the other side. This engine requires high speed in order to work, but it is suitable for the speeds at which it travels. The NASA X-43 is an experimental unmanned scramjet with a world speed record for a jet-powered aircraft – Mach 9.7, nearly 12000 kilometres per hour (7,456.5 mph) at an altitude of about 36000 metres (118,110.2 ft). The X-43A set the flight speed record in 2004.

See also


  • Aircraft flight mechanics
    Aircraft flight mechanics
    In aeronautics, aircraft flight mechanics is the study of the forces that act on an aircraft in flight, and the way the aircraft responds to those forces.Aircraft flight mechanics are relevant to gliders, helicopters and aeroplanes....

  • Airliner
    Airliner
    An airliner is a large fixed-wing aircraft for transporting passengers and cargo. Such aircraft are operated by airlines. Although the definition of an airliner can vary from country to country, an airliner is typically defined as an aircraft intended for carrying multiple passengers in commercial...

  • Aviation
    Aviation
    Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

  • Aviation history
    Aviation history
    The history of aviation has extended over more than two thousand years from the earliest attempts in kites and gliders to powered heavier-than-air, supersonic and hypersonic flight.The first form of man-made flying objects were kites...

  • Fuel efficiency
    Fuel efficiency
    Fuel efficiency is a form of thermal efficiency, meaning the efficiency of a process that converts chemical potential energy contained in a carrier fuel into kinetic energy or work. Overall fuel efficiency may vary per device, which in turn may vary per application, and this spectrum of variance is...

  • List of altitude records reached by different aircraft types
  • Maneuvering speed
    Maneuvering speed
    In aviation, maneuvering speed is the maximum speed where full, abrupt control movement in the pitch axis will result in an aerodynamic stall of the aircraft prior to exceeding the design load limit. It has been widely misunderstood that flight below maneuvering speed will provide total protection...

  • Rotorcraft
    Rotorcraft
    A rotorcraft or rotary wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine that uses lift generated by wings, called rotor blades, that revolve around a mast. Several rotor blades mounted to a single mast are referred to as a rotor. The International Civil Aviation Organization defines a rotorcraft...



External links