Airplanes are complex vehicles consisting of many parts. A typical 787, for instance, is made of 6 million individual parts. Some of these parts are small, whereas others are large. Regardless, each part serves a specific purpose. While airplanes rely on many different parts to provide a safe flying experience for passengers, one of the most important parts in their construction is the airframe. To learn more about airframes and how they are work, keep reading.
The Basics of Airframes
An airframe is a collection of components that serves as the mechanical framework for an airplane. It’s not a single component or part. Rather, the term “airframe” refers to several components of which an airplane’s mechanical framework is comprised.
All fixed-wing airplanes have an airframe.
An airplane’s wings are considered part of its airframe. The wings are responsible for generating lift so that the airplane stays in the air. As air flows over them, the wings will generate lift. There are different types of wing configurations. In all of these configurations, though, wings play a critical role in the function of an airplane by generating lift. And because they are part of an airplane’s mechanical framework, wings are part of an airplane’s airframe.
The fuselage is another part of an airplane’s airframe. Derived from the French word for “spindle-shaped,” it’s the body section of an airplane. Most fuselages are made of steel tube trusses that have been welded. They serve as the main container for an airplane’s seats, cargo area, engines and other parts. Fuselages feature a spindle shape for aerodynamic purposes. With a spindle shape, airplanes can cut through the air with greater ease.
Many airplanes have stabilizers as well. A stabilizer is a fin mounted on an airplane’s wing. There are vertical stabilizers, and there are horizontal stabilizers. Vertical stabilizers are those mounted vertically and upright. In comparison, horizontal stabilizers are those mounted horizontally. Both types are considered part of an airplane’s airframe. Like all other parts of the airframe, they form the airplane’s mechanical body.
Landing gear is considered part of an airplane’s airframe. All airplanes have landing gear. While there are different types of landing gear, most of them consist of wheels that can be raised or lowered. An exception is a seaplane. Seaplanes generally don’t have wheels. Rather, they have floats that allow them to land on bodies of water.