The wings of an airplane are one of the most technologically advanced aspects of aircraft, generating and maintaining many of the forces required for flight. In addition to creating lift, airplane wings also serve a number of other purposes, ranging from storing fuel to controlling flight. Given their complexity, aircraft wings comprise a collection of parts designed for various purposes. For your better understanding, we will break down and explore the parts of a typical airplane wing in the following blog.
The vast majority of airplane wing components work to alter the shape of the wing as desired, changing the flow of air around the wing to direct the plane’s motion. To offer the most versatility in wing shape, there are moveable parts on both the leading edge and the trailing edge of the wing. An important note is that the leading edge of a wing encompasses both parts above and below the front of the wing, while the trailing edge encompasses all parts located in the rear. The leading edge of the wing is the side of the wing that faces the drag force acting against the airplane, and it relies on moveable parts like Kreuger flaps and slats. Meanwhile, the trailing edge of the wing relies on ailerons, spoilers, and a separate set of slats.
The leading edge of a wing is a rounded front that directs air over and under the wing to generate maximum lift depending on airspeed. The Kreuger flaps are located under the wing and they are deployed to force more air under the wing to generate lift. This allows for takeoff from shorter runways and slower landing speeds. The slats are positioned from the outboard side of the engine to the wing tip, and they function to increase the surface area of the upper portion of the wing to increase lift. Together, these components allow for aircraft to land and takeoff at lower speeds.
At the trailing edge of the wing, you will locate trailing edge flaps; these components also generate lift, but they operate differently because of their position. Trailing edge flaps extend downward from the rear of the wing, increasing the surface area of the airfoil. The trailing edge also includes ailerons, those of which are the primary control surfaces used to roll the aircraft along its longitudinal axis. Working in tandem with the spoilers, ailerons may also reduce the speed of the plane and provide a steeper descent.
While these are some of the parts of a wing, there are various other components that serve different purposes. One example is the engine pylon, an aerodynamic engine housing located below the wing. Another common and very interesting wing component are vortex generators. These are small aerodynamic tabs fitted near the leading edge of the wing and they work to generate small vortices over the surface of the wing as a means of increasing airflow speed. Wings will also comprise fuel tanks, lights, alongside spars and ribs for internal structure.
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