The Various Flight Control Systems of Aircraft

For a pilot to efficiently direct an aircraft through all stages of flight, they rely on various flight control systems and devices. Flight controls are what allow a pilot to manipulate the attitude and flight path of an aircraft, and they are made up of various primary and secondary flight controls. With all controls permitting the governance over various aerodynamic factors that affect flight, it is paramount that pilots are very familiar with each tool available to them and how they may be used for achieving control over the aircraft. In this blog, we will discuss the more common flight control systems present on aircraft, allowing you to familiarize yourself with how they function and are used.

The primary flight controls are what are used to maintain safe control over the aircraft, and they consist of ailerons, elevators, and the rudder. Ailerons are surfaces present on the trailing edge of aircraft wings, and they may be deployed for the means of achieving rolling and banking movements. To control the ailerons, pilots rely on a yoke or control stick. In some instances, stick shakers may be used as well. The rudder is another surface that is present on the tail-end of the aircraft, and it controls rotation on the vertical axis in order to manipulate yaw. In order to adjust rudder positioning, pilots utilize rudder pedals placed at their feet within the cockpit, and the system is actuated through cables and pulleys. For the pilot to have control over the lateral axis and pitch, elevators and stabilators are relied upon. Attached to the trailing edge of the horizontal stabilizer, the elevators manipulate the angle of attack for wings while creating a load on the tail.

The secondary flight control systems assist in performance characteristics alongside primary flight controls, and their common types include flaps, control surface tabs, spoilers, speed brakes, and other various parts. Flaps are placed at the trailing edge of wings, and they are used to reduce stalling speeds. Generally, such devices are most beneficial for reducing take-off distances and for landing procedures, and the amount they are extended will depend upon the need of the pilot and the procedure undertaken. Flaps also come in multiple types, each providing different characteristics to suit varying needs. When operating flaps, flap asymmetry may result from unequal actuation. To avoid having the aircraft roll from flap asymmetry, the pilot should attempt to raise the flaps again.

Control surface tabs are adjustable aerodynamic devices that can reduce the pressure placed on controls. Often installed on ailerons, rudders, and elevators, control surface tabs commonly come in the form of trim tab and servo tab components. Trim tabs are controlled with cables and pulleys, and they reduce pilot workloads through the reduction of forces. Servo tab components feature similar uses and properties as trim tabs, though they may be operated automatically. To further increase stability, some aircraft may utilize dorsal fin and ventral fin components that are not controlled by the pilot.

Through the use of both primary and secondary flight controls, pilots can manage various flight characteristics with ease. At Parts Needed Yesterday, we serve as a streamlined purchasing platform for aircraft parts where customers can compare quotes on everything that we offer. Whether you need segreg stick shakers or obsolete rudder pedals, we provide unmatched customer service and competitive pricing to save you time and money during the procurement process. Customers can also rest assured that all of our parts are of the highest quality as we subject all to rigorous testing, inspection, and cross-referencing before shipment. See why customers choose to rely on At Parts Needed Yesterday when you fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website.


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April 26, 2021

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