Types of Flight Control

Each aircraft features a system of intricate hardware known as flight controls working in harmony to perform the tasks needed for flight. Within each flight control system, there is a primary and secondary control system. The primary Flight control system is made up of the ailerons, elevator/stabilator, and rudder. In the secondary system you will find the aircraft wing flaps, leading edge devices, spoilers, and trim systems.

Ailerons are attached to the outboard trailing edge and move in opposite directions of one another. They are connected by cables, aircraft bellcranks, aviation pulleys, or push/pull tubes and serve to control roll along the longitudinal axis. The elevator, a flap connected to the control column, is at the rear of the aircraft and controls pitch about the lateral axis. When the elevator is in “up” position, the tail of the aircraft moves down and the nose pitches up and vise versa.

Another important flight control is the stabilator. The stabilator is essentially the combination of an elevator and stabilizer in one piece. Similar to the aircraft elevator, stabilators are linked to the control column and pivot on a central hinge point. The final component of the primary control system, the rudder, controls the aircraft’s movement along the vertical axis. The rudder operates by deflecting airflow and exerting a horizontal force in the opposite direction. Like most flight control surfaces, rudder performance increases with speed. 

The first component of the secondary control system is the wing flaps. These are attached to the trailing edge of the wings and increase both lift and induced drag at any angle of attack. Leading edge devices are located on the wing and are deployed during different flight phases such as take-off, landing, and cruise. A third component of the secondary control system is the spoiler. These are found on fixed-wing aircraft and are used to smooth airflow, thereby reducing lift and increasing drag. When affixed to gliders, spoilers are used to control the rate of descent for safe, accurate landing. The final piece of the secondary control system is the trim tabs. Attached to the trailing edge of the elevator, trim tabs are manually operated by a small control wheel and help the elevator control airflow.

Each piece of the flight control system plays a key role in the functionality of an aircraft. At Unlimited Purchasing, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the flight control components for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@unlimitedpurchasing.com or call us at +1-714-705-4780.


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