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Aircraft Parts: The Parts of a Commercial Airplane
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Aircraft Parts: The Parts of a Commercial Airplane

Some of the Many Airplane Parts That Make Flying Possible

Millions of Americans fly every day, and yet many of us take for granted the many things that make commercial flying possible. The industry relies on a network of aircraft parts suppliers to develop innovative and cost-effective aerospace parts to keep our planes flying safely and efficiently. To make this process as smooth as possible, many airlines rely on a third party for aircraft inventory management.

Let's take a look at some of the many airplane parts that make flying possible:


The fuselage is the main body of the aircraft that houses the crew, passengers and cargo during flight. The cockpit is situated in the forward most part of the fuselage with the aft, or tail, section at the other end of the plane.

Landing Gear

The landing gear is also commonly referred to as the undercarriage. In most aircraft, including commercial airliners, wheels and brakes are attached to the landing gear. When the airplane is on the ground, the landing gear allows it to taxi and take off. When the airplane is flying, the landing gear is deployed (i.e., dropped) upon descent to allow the plane to land safely. Landing gears are often mechanically retractable and fold up into the underside of the plane to reduce air resistance and drag during flight.

Auxiliary Power Units

Auxiliary power units (APUs) are gas turbine engines that provide power and electricity to the airplane. The most important task the APU provides is supplying the plane with power for the initial startup of the main engines. The APU is used mainly to handle power generation when the aircraft is on the ground. Aside from powering auxiliary devices like the airplane's air conditioning, APUs also supply backup power to the aircraft in the event of an emergency or other power failure. Under normal operating conditions the APU is turned off once the main engines are started and remain off for the duration of the flight.


From the French word for "little wing," ailerons are hinged surfaces that attach to the trailing edge of the main wings. They are used to help balance the plane laterally. They are used in pairs, with one on each wing. Movement about the aircraft's longitudinal axis is referred to as rolling or banking. Ailerons are engineered and placed to balance this undesirable rolling.


Slats attach to the leading edge of the wings. Their aerodynamic properties allow an increased angle of attack. As this angle is increased, a higher lift coefficient is provided allowing aircrafts to fly at a slower speed. They also allow for shorter distance landings and takeoffs. They are usually used while landing or performing maneuvers which take the aircraft close to the stall, but are usually retracted in normal flight to minimize drag.


Stabilizers, both vertical and horizontal, are the unsung heroes when it comes to aircraft parts. A vertical stabilizer is a fin-shaped material found at the rear end of the fuselage of the plane and points upwards. It is designed to reduce sideslip and provides stability. Without this stabilizer, the plane would yaw uncontrollably. Also known as the tailplane, the horizontal stabilizer sits perpendicular to the vertical stabilizer and is also typically attached at the rear end of the fuselage. Just as the vertical stabilizer prevents yawing, the horizontal stabilizer prevents pitching, the force that is perpendicular to yawing.


Winglets, also known as wingtip devices, reduce drag, turbulence and improve the fuel efficiency of an airplane. They are placed at the edge of the wings. They can also improve overall handling. They mimic the upward curvature often seen in some types of birds who bend the tip of their wings upward to reduce drag.


In general, a rudder is simply a device that is used to steer many different types of vehicles, from ships, boats, and submarines to aircrafts. On airplanes, however, the rudder's primary function is not to steer the plane. They are typically attached to the vertical stabilizer (fin). The rudder allows the pilot to manipulate the plane's yaw, or movement about the vertical axis of the plane. Basically, the rudder allows the pilot to change the direction that the nose of the plane is pointing.


Flaps are placed on the opposite side (trailing edge) of the wing as the slats. They are used to reduce the speed at which the airplane can fly safely. They also serve to increase the angle of descent by creating more drag during the landing process.


Typically placed in the front end of the fuselage, the cockpit houses the pilot, crew, and all controls and instrumentation of the aircraft. It is also referred to as the flight deck.


The wings are arguably one of the most important parts of the plane. Wings are designed with an angle of attack engineered to deflect the airflow downwards, resulting in a lower air pressure above the wing coupled with a higher pressure underneath the wing. This higher pressure underneath the wing is what provides the upward force known in aerodynamics as lift.

Turbojet Engine

Another critical part of the airplane is the turbojet engine. A turbojet engine is comprised of a gas turbine with an attached propelling nozzle. Air flows through an air inlet and is compressed. This compressed air is heated in a combustion chamber by jet fuel. This air fuel mixture is then burned in the combustor, which feeds through a turbine and nozzle under pressure. This exhausted pressurized hot air fuel mixture is what provides the propulsion on an airplane.

Regardless of the aircraft type or the parts in question, ATC Aerospace can provide customized comprehensive supply chain management programs to get the right parts to the right place at the right time. We are experts in fixed- and rotary-wing parts with both commercial and military applications. Every member of our management team has over 20 years of experience on the cutting edge of aviation supply chain programs and we understand that there are no "one-size-fits-all" solutions. We work closely with our clients to define a program that fits all requirements. ATC Aerospace provides innovative customer-focused solutions backed by financial strength, stringent quality systems, and outstanding information systems. Put our professionalism and flexibility to work for you.

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