Aircraft Wings: Their Structures, Types, and Functionality

The wings of aircraft are what allow them to achieve heavier-than-air flight. As a type of fin that is capable of producing lift when moving through a fluid, aircraft wings serve as airfoils when faced with aerodynamic forces. To best understand how wings are able to allow such heavy structures to soar across the sky, one first needs to understand their construction, types, and general functionality.

Air is a substance that has its own innate weight, and its molecules are in constant motion. With this motion, air pressure is created, and moving air can generate forces that push and pull objects that move through it. For aircraft wings to provide their use, they are specifically designed in such a way that air moves faster over the top of the wing. By increasing the velocity of molecules, pressure decreases enough to create an imbalance above and below the wing. As a result of this difference, a force is exerted on the bottom of the wing and thus the aircraft is lifted upwards.

The wing is also shaped to be an airfoil, and asymmetrical or symmetrical cross sections may be used to achieve lift through different methods. Asymmetrical cross sections are common for subsonic flight, while symmetrical cross sections help aircraft generate lift with a positive angle of attack that deflects air downward. Supercritical airfoils are also a type that utilize complex asymmetrical shapes, and such designs benefit aircraft reaching near the speed of sound.

Wings can also be categorized by their wing type, and the three common configurations are the biplane, braced monoplane, and cantilever wing. Biplane configurations are common to many early aircraft, and they have two wings that are placed on top of one another with struts and cross bracing wires serving to increase the rigidity of the assembly. With braced monoplane design, the wings are attached to the fuselage and supported with struts. Such configurations are common for many high-wing aircraft as well as Cessna models. The cantilever wing is devoid of struts and outside bracing, and such designs are common to airliners and low wing aircraft.

While wings are paramount to the ability of the aircraft to achieve lift, there also needs to be various mechanisms, devices, and controls for the aircraft to be able to change direction or adjust other flight characteristics. With the use of an aileron assembly placed on each wing, pilots can raise and drop surfaces on the wings in order to roll the aircraft left or right. With the elevators placed on the tail-end of the fuselage, the nose can be dropped or lifted to descend or climb. Rudders and their pedals are also used to push the nose left or right, and pilots often rely on the rudders alongside ailerons to make turns. In order to slow the aircraft for a descent or upon landing, air spoilers are small, hinged surfaces on the top of wings that can dump lift. Flap assembly parts are also useful for when a pilot needs to reduce the take-off or landing distance of the aircraft, and they work to reduce stalling speed.

Beyond common devices such as air spoilers, aileron assembly parts, and flap assy components, a number of other devices and items can benefit pilots in controlling an aircraft. Fulfillment 3sixty is a leading online distributor of aircraft parts, and we provide customers competitive pricing and rapid lead-times on over 2 billion new, used, and obsolete items that we carry. As we test, inspect, and cross-reference every item prior to shipment, customers can rest assured that their items are of the highest quality. Get started on the purchasing process today with a competitive quote when you fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website.


March 11, 2021

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