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There are several different qualities we can measure and

for each different quality we assign a unit of measurement.
This sounds much more technical than it really is. When you
talk about time, you speak about seconds, minutes, hours,
days, etc... These are just some of the units of measurement
for time.

You keep track of, or measure, time with a clock or a

calendar and say things like "there is 20 minutes until
recess" or "It takes 10 days to drive across the country."
These are measurements just like any an engineer or
scientist would make and they always include two things: a
number, (20 and 10 in the two statements above) and a unit
(minutes and days) that puts the number in context. The
following physical qualities are important in aeronautics
and give some examples of the units of measurement that go
with them

Length: Length is another basic measurement that we all

use in everyday life. We say things like "I have to ride 3

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miles to school" or "I am 5 feet tall." The units of length

are inches, feet, meters, miles, etc...

Area: Area is a measure of how much room there is on a

surface like the floor space in a classroom or the size of
something that is mostly flat like a wing. Area is usually
measured in square feet (a one foot by one foot square) or
square meters in science and engineering. Other units of
area you know are acres and square miles.

Volume: Volume is how much apace there is in a container

like in a fuel tank or an airplane cabin. Cubic feet (one
foot by one foot by one foot cubes) or cubic meters,
gallons, litres, and cubic centimetres (CC's for short) are
all commonly used units of volume

Velocity: How fast you travel is measured by velocity. If you

run 10 miles in 1 hour your velocity was 10 mile per hour.
In aeronautics we usually use feet per second or meters
per second. Like these examples, units of velocity are
usually expressed as a unit of length per a unit of time. An
exception to this rule are knots, which are also often used
in aeronautics. One knot is about 1.7 feet per second.

Acceleration: Acceleration is a measure of how quickly

velocity is changing if your car goes from zero to sixty in 5
seconds, the acceleration would be (60 miles per hour) per
(5 seconds) or 12 miles per hour per second. A more typical
unit that an engineer would use is "meters per second per

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second" or "meters per second squared". Acceleration is

also a measure of how fast you slow down even though we
use the word deceleration in conversation.

Mass: Mass is the measure of how much stuff (matter) is in

an solid object or contained in a volume. Mass resists being
lifted. It also resists acceleration. If you put a lot of
people in your car you are adding a lot of mass and you will
not be able to accelerate as quickly. Mass is measured in
kilograms or sometimes as slugs. Mass is very different
from weight. Two things with the exact same mass will have
different weights on the Earth and the Moon.

Density: Density is a measure of how tightly packed

together the mass in a volume or object is. If you have a 10
gallon fish tank with water in it and another 10 gallon
fish tank with air in it the one with the water is heavier
because water is much more dense than air. The units of
density are always mass per volume. kilograms per cubic
meter, slugs per gallon, slugs per cubic foot....

Force: Force is how hard an object is pushed or pulled. The

most well known force is the force of gravity called
weight. Forces are most often measured in pounds or

Pressure: Pressure is a force spread out over an area

versus one that is applied at a single point. Pressure is a
very important concept in aeronautics as it is a source of

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the lift that gets an aircraft off the ground. Pressure can
be a deceivingly powerful quantity. A small pressure
applied over a large area can add up to a very large force.
pressure is measured in units of pounds per square foot,
Newton’s per square meter (or Pascals for short),
atmospheres, and bars among other things.

Temperature: Temperature is a measurement of how hot

something is. It is the same thing you hear about on the
news every day. It is measured in degrees Fahrenheit or
degrees Celsius. Everything has a temperature - the air
around you (That's what they are talking about on the
weather every morning), your body, rocks, trees,

Viscosity: Viscosity is probably the most obscure physical

quality on this list. It is a measure of how much a fluid will
resist flowing. Honey is very viscous, water is less viscous.
Flowing fluids exert a force on what they are flowing
over. This force (measured in Newton’s) is a factor of how
fast the fluid is flowing (measured in meters per second),
how thick the layer of fluid is (measured in meters), and
the viscosity. When you put all these factors together you
find that the units of viscosity are "Newton-seconds per
square meter".

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Man has dreamed of flight for thousands of years. From the

beginning have watched birds fly and imagined the
possibilities of being free from the earth's surface.
However, it took hundreds of years for us to understand
our world and the forces in it well enough to make it
possible for humans to fly through the air.

First, we needed to understand the stuff the earth and air

were made of. We invented and discovered ways of
measuring things so that we could classify and sort them.

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With this knowledge man has developed theories to explain

and predict how and why the earth and air behaves the way
it does and eventually learned to harness their power so
that we could build the engines and wings needed to get
off the ground. The science of building an airplane is
called Principles of Flight.

Before we begin to learn about it let's define it. It is the

science of designing an airplane. There are four basic
subjects that controllers must understand.

1. How the airplane and its wing slips easily through the

air and can lift itself off the ground. This is called
2. How to control the airplane so that it will be able to
turn but not spin out of control. This is called
stability and control.
3. How to build an engine (be it a jet or a propeller) so

that airplane can push its way through the wind. This
is called propulsion.


Aerodynamics is the study of the forces acting on an object

due to air moving past it.

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The airplane in straight-and-level unaccelerated flight is

acted on by four forces. The four forces lift , gravity,
thrust and drag.

LIFT: The upward acting force;

WEIGHT OR GRAVITY: The downward acting force;

THRUST: The forward acting force;

DRAG: The backward acting, or retarding force of wind


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Lift opposes Weight.

Thrust opposes drag.

Drag and weight are forces inherent in anything lifted from

the earth and moved through the air. Thrust and lift are
artificially created forces used to overcome the forces of
nature and enable an airplane to fly. The engine and
propeller combination is designed to produce thrust to
overcome drag. The wing is designed to produce lift to
overcome the weight (or gravity).

In straight-and-level, unaccelerated flight, (Straight-and-

level flight is coordinated flight at a constant altitude
and heading) lift equals weight and thrust equals drag,
though lift and weight will not equal thrust and drag. Any
inequality between lift and weight will result in the
airplane entering a climb or descent. Any inequality
between thrust and drag while maintaining straight-and-
level flight will result in acceleration or deceleration
until the two forces become balanced.

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An airfoil is a device which gets a useful reaction from

moving over its surface. We will consider an airfoil a
device which, when moved through the air, is capable of
producing lift. Wings, horizontal tail surfaces, vertical tail
surfaces, and propellers are all examples of airfoils.

We will use a cross-sectional view of a wing in our

discussion. Generally the wing of the type of aircraft the
pilot will fly looks in cross section like the one in the
figure below.

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The forward part of an airfoil is rounded and is called the

leading edge. The aft part is narrow and tapered and is
called the trailing edge. A reference line often used in
discussing airfoils is the chord, an imaginary straight line
joining the extremities of the leading and trailing edges.


A - Lift

Lift is produced by a lower pressure created on the upper

surface of an airplane's wing compared to the pressure on
the wing's lower surface, causing the wing to be "lifted"
upward. The special shape of the airplane wing (airfoil) is
designed so that air flowing over it will have to travel a
greater distance faster, resulting in a lower pressure area

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(see illustration) thus lifting the wing upward. Lift is that

force which opposes the force of gravity (or weight).

B- Thrust
Thrust is a force created by a power source which gives an
airplane forward motion. It can either "pull" or "push" an
airplane forward. Thrust is that force which overcomes
drag. Conventional airplanes utilize engines as well as
propellers to obtain thrust.

C- Weight
Force resulting from the effect of the Earth’s gravity
acting on the aircraft’s mass; the force of the engines must
overpower this to keep the aircraft in the air.

D- Drag
Force opposite to thrust that creates resistance to the
aircraft’s forward movement and must be reduced.

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In aerodynamics, lift-induced drag, induced drag, vortex drag,

or sometimes drag due to lift, is a drag force that occurs
whenever a moving object redirects the airflow coming at
it. This drag force occurs in airplanes due to wings or a
lifting body redirecting air to cause lift that redirect air
to cause a down force. With other parameters remaining
the same, as the angle of attack increases, induced drag
Lift is produced by accelerating airflow over the upper
surface of a wing, creating a pressure difference between
the air flowing over the wing upper and lower surfaces. On
a wing of finite span, some air flows around the wingtip
from the lower surface to the upper surface producing
wingtip vortices.
Wingtip vortices form the major component of wake

Wake turbulence is turbulence that forms behind an

aircraft as it passes through the air. This turbulence

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includes various components, the most important of which

are wingtip vortices and jet wash. Jet wash refers simply to
the rapidly moving gasses expelled from a jet engine; it is
extremely turbulent, but of short duration. Wingtip
vortices, on the other hand, are much more stable and can
remain in the air for up to three minutes after the passage
of an aircraft. Wingtip vortices make up the primary and
most dangerous component of wake turbulence.

Wake turbulence is especially hazardous during the landing

and take-off phases of flight, for three reasons. The first
is that during take-off and landing, aircraft operate at low
speeds and high angle of attack. This flight attitude
maximizes the formation of dangerous wingtip vortices.
Secondly, takeoff and landing are the times when a plane is
operating closest to its stall speed and to the ground -
meaning there is little margin for recovery in the event of
encountering another aircraft's wake turbulence. Thirdly,
these phases of flight put aircraft closest together and
along the same flight path, maximizing the chance of
encountering the phenomenon.


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Structural Components and Control of an Aircraft

The main structural components of an aircraft are:

• Rotary and fixed wing
A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air craft whose lift is
generated not by wing motion relative to the aircraft, but
by forward motion through the air. The term is used to
distinguish from rotary-wing aircraft where the movement
of the wing surfaces relative to the aircraft generates

Fixed wing aircraft

Fixed-wing aircraft range from small training and

recreational aircraft to wide-body aircraft and military
cargo aircraft.

Rotary-wing aircraft

A helicopter is an aircraft that is lifted and propelled by

one or more horizontal rotors, each rotor consisting of
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two or more rotor blades. Helicopters are classified as

rotorcraft or rotary-wing aircraft to distinguish them from
fixed-wing aircraft because the helicopter achieves lift
with the rotor blades which rotate around a mast.

The wings are the most important lift-

producing part of the aircraft. Wings
vary in design depending upon the
aircraft type and its purpose. Most
airplanes are designed so that the
outer tips of the wings are higher than
where the wings are attached to the
fuselage. This upward angle is called
the dihedral and helps keep the airplane from rolling
unexpectedly during flight. Wings also carry the fuel for
the airplane.


Rectangular Straight Wing

Slight Sweepback Wing

Tapered Straight Wing

Moderate Sweepback Wing

Rounded or Elliptical Straight Wing

Great Sweepback Wing
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• Tail Plane

Tail Plane

A tailplane, also known as horizontal stabilizer, is a small

lifting surface located behind the main lifting surfaces of
a fixed-wing aircraft as well as other non-fixed wing
aircraft such as helicopters.

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The empennage or tail assembly provides stability and

control for the aircraft. The empennage is composed of two
main parts: the vertical stabilizer (fin) to which the rudder
is attached; and the horizontal stabilizer to which the
elevators are attached. These stabilizers of the airplane
help to keep the airplane pointed into the wind. When the
tail end of the airplane tries to swing to either side, the
wind pushes against the tail surfaces, returning it to its
proper place. The rudder and elevators allow the pilot to
control the yaw and pitch motion of the airplane,

• Fuselage


The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and

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1: Subsonic
2: High-speed / supersonic
3: High-capacity subsonic
4: Highly-maneuverable supersonic
5: Flying boat
6: Hypersonic
• Flaps





Flaps are hinged surfaces on the trailing edge of the wings of a fixed-wing aircraft. As
flaps are extended, the stalling speed of the aircraft is reduced. Flaps are also used on
the leading edge of the wings of some high-speed jet aircraft.

• Ailerons

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Ailerons are hinged control surfaces attached to the

trailing edge of the wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The
ailerons are used to control the aircraft in roll. The two
ailerons are typically interconnected so that one goes
down when the other goes up: the down-going aileron
increases the lift


on its wing while the up-going aileron reduces the lift on

the other wing, producing a rolling moment about the
aircraft's longitudinal axis.

• Elevator
Elevators are control surfaces, usually at the rear of an aircraft,
which control the aircraft's orientation by changing the pitch of the
aircraft, and so also the angle of attack of the wing.

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• Rudder
The rudder is usually attached to the fin (or vertical
stabilizer) which allows the pilot to control yaw in the
vertical axis, i.e. change the horizontal direction in which
the nose is pointing. The rudder's direction is manipulated
with the movement of foot pedals by the pilot

• Landing Gear

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Landing gear usually includes wheels equipped with shock

absorbers for solid ground, but some aircraft are equipped
with skis for snow or floats for water.


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In aerodynamics, the flight envelope or performance envelope

of an aircraft refers to the capabilities of a design in
terms of speed and altitude.

Maximum Speeds

Airspeed is the speed of an aircraft relative to the air.

There are several different measures of airspeed: indicated
airspeed, calibrated airspeed, equivalent airspeed and true

Minimum and Stall Speeds


The service ceiling attempts to capture the maximum usable

altitude of an aircraft. Specifically, it is the density
altitude at which flying in a clean configuration, at the
best rate of climb airspeed for that altitude and with all
engines operating and producing maximum continuous power,
will produce a 100 feet per minute climb. The highest
altitude an airplane can sustain level flight, or altitude
above which the cabin pressurization system can no longer
maintain a sufficient oxygen level for passengers and crew,

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and where the pressure differential is so great as to put

severe stress on the pressure cabin of the aircraft. Most
commercial jetliners have a ceiling of about 42,000 feet
(12,802 m) while some business jets can reach 52,000 feet
or higher.

Critical angle of attack

The critical angle of attack is the angle of attack at which

the air no longer flows smoothly over the upper surface
of the airfoil. At this point, the aircraft is said to be in a
stall. A fixed-wing aircraft typically stalls around a
certain critical angle of attack (rather than at the same
airspeed). The airspeed at which the aircraft stalls is
variable, depending on the weight of the aircraft, the load
factor at the time and the thrust from the engine. The
critical angle of attack is typically around 15° for many
Modern airliners that have fly-by-wire technology avoid
the critical angle of attack by means of software in the
computer systems that govern the flight controls.

Maximum Rate of Climb

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Best rate of climb (Vy) is performed at airspeed where the

most excess power is available over that required for
level flight. This condition of climb will produce the most
gain in altitude in the least amount of time (maximum rate
of climb in feet per minute). The best rate of climb made at
full allowable power is a maximum climb. It must be fully
understood that attempts to obtain more climb performance
than the airplane is capable of by increasing pitch attitude
will result in a decrease in the rate of altitude gain.

In aerodynamics, the rate of climb RoC is the speed at which

an aircraft increases its altitude.

The rate of decrease in altitude is referred to as the rate of

descent or sink rate.

There are two traditional airspeeds for most aircraft

relating to rates of ascent, referred to as Vx and Vy.

Vx refers to the "best angle of climb speed," which is

usually less than Vy, the "best rate of climb speed." The
difference between these speeds relating to the rate of
climb lies in the climb objective.

In aerodynamics, angle of climb is the ratio between distance

travelled over the ground and altitude gained. The angle
of climb can be expressed as the angle between a plane
horizontal to the earth's surface and the actual flight
path followed by the aircraft during its ascent. See

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remarks on the notations used for best angle of climb

speed Vx in the article on rate of climb.

Internal combustion piston engine

Components of a typical, four stroke
cycle, internal combustion piston engine.
E - Exhaust camshaft
I - Intake camshaft
S - Spark plug
V - Valves
P - Piston
R - Connecting rod
C - Crankshaft
W - Water jacket for coolant flow

Best angle of climb airspeed for an airplane is the speed at

which the maximum excess thrust is available. Excess
thrust is the difference between the total drag of the
aircraft, and the thrust output of the power plant. For a
jet aircraft, this speed is very close to the speed at which
the total minimum drag occurs.


Piston Engines

A piston engine, is a heat engine that uses one or more

reciprocating pistons to convert pressure into a rotating

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motion. There may be one or more pistons. Each piston is

inside a cylinder, into which a gas is introduced, either
already hot and under pressure, or heated inside the
cylinder either by ignition of a fuel air mixture (internal
combustion engine) or by contact with a hot heat
exchanger in the cylinder. The hot gases expand, pushing
the piston to the bottom of the cylinder. The piston is
returned to the cylinder top either by a flywheel or the
power from other pistons connected to the same shaft. In
most types the expanded or "exhausted" gases are removed
from the cylinder by this stroke.

Continental O-520 is a six-cylinder, horizontally-opposed aircraft engine produced by Continental Motor

It’s most common application (the Cessna 404 and Cessna 421 twin-engine aircraft)

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Type of propellers
In designing propellers, the maximum performance of the
airplane for all condition of operation from takeoff, climb,
cruising, and high speed. The propellers may be classified
under eight general types as follows:
1. Fixed pitch: The propeller is made in one piece. Only one
pitch setting is possible and is usually two blades
propeller and is often made of wood or metal.

2. Ground adjustable pitch: The pitch setting can be adjusted

only with tools on the ground before the engine is running.
This type of propellers usually has a split hub. The blade
angle is specified by the aircraft specifications. The
adjustable - pitch feature permits compensation for the
location of the flying field at various altitudes and also
for variations in the characteristics of airplanes using the
same engine. Setting the blade angles by loosened the
clamps and the blade is rotated to the desired angle and
then tighten the clamps.

3. Two-position: A propeller which can have its pitch

changed from one position to one other angle by the pilot
while in flight.
4. Controllable pitch: The pilot can change the pitch of the
propeller in flight or while operating the engine by mean
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of a pitch changing mechanism that may be operated by

5. Constant speed: The constant speed propeller utilizes a
hydraulically or electrically operated pitch changing
mechanism which is controlled by governor. The setting of
the governor is adjusted by the pilot with the rpm lever in
the cockpit. During operation, the constant speed propeller
will automatically change its blade angle to maintain a
constant engine speed. If engine power is increase, the
blade angle is increased to make the propeller absorb the
additional power while the rpm remain constant. At the
other position, if the engine power is decreased, the blade
angle will decrease to make the blades take less bite of air
to keep engine rpm remain constant. The pilot selects the
engine speed required for any particular type of operation.

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6. Full Feathering: A constant speed propeller which has the

ability to turn edge to the wind and thereby eliminate drag
and wind milling in the event of engine failure. The term
Feathering refers to the operation of rotating the blades
of the propeller to the wind position for the purpose of
stopping the rotation of the propeller to reduce drag.
Therefore, a Feathered blade is in an approximate in-line-
of-flight position, streamlined with the line of flight
(turned the blades to a very high pitch). Feathering is
necessary when the engine fails or when it is desirable to
shutoff an engine in flight.

7. Reversing: A constant speed propeller which has the

ability to assume a negative blade angle and produce a
reversing thrust. When propellers are reversed, their
blades are rotated below their positive angle, that is,
through flat pitch, until a negative blade angle is obtained
in order to produce thrust acting in the opposite direction
to the forward thrust. Reverse propeller thrust is used
where a large aircraft is landed, in reducing the length of
landing run.
8. Beta Control: A propeller which allows the manual
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repositioning of the propeller blade angle beyond the

normal low pitch stop. Used most often in taxiing, where
thrust is manually controlled by adjusting blade angle
with the power lever.

Control and Operation

Basic requirement: For flight operation, an engine is

demanded to deliver power within a relatively narrow band
of operating rotation speeds. During flight, the speed-
sensitive governor of the propeller automatically
controls the blade angle as required to maintain a
constant r.p.m. of the engine.
Three factors tend to vary the r.p.m. of the engine
during operation. These factors are power, airspeed, and air
density. If the r.p.m. is to maintain constant, the blade angle
must vary directly with power, directly with airspeed, and
inversely with air density. The speed-sensitive governor
provides the means by which the propeller can adjust itself
automatically to varying power and flight conditions while
converting the power to thrust.


A jet engine is a gas turbine engine. A jet engine develops

thrust by accelerating a relatively small mass of air to
very high velocity, as opposed to a propeller, which
develops thrust by accelerating a much larger mass of air
to a much slower velocity.

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One of the advantages of the jet engine over the piston

engine is the jet engine’s capability of producing much
greater amounts of thrust horsepower at the high
altitudes and high speeds. In fact, turbojet engine
efficiency increases with altitude and speed.

Basic turbojet engine

In theory, the jet engine is simpler and more directly

converts thermal energy (the burning and expansion of
gases) into mechanical energy (thrust). The piston or
reciprocating engine, with all of its moving parts, must
convert the thermal energy into mechanical energy and
then finally into thrust by rotating a propeller.
Although the propeller driven airplane is not nearly as
efficient as the jet, particularly at the higher altitudes
and cruising speeds required in modern aviation, one of the
few advantages the propeller driven airplane has over the
jet is that maximum thrust is available almost at the start
of the takeoff roll. Initial thrust output of the jet engine
on takeoff is relatively lower and does not reach peak
efficiency until the higher speeds. The fanjet or turbofan

engine was developed to help compensate for this problem

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and is, in effect, a compromise between the pure jet engine

(turbojet) and the propeller engine.

Turbofan engine


An altimeter is an instrument used to measure the altitude
of an object above a fixed level.

The face of the "three-pointer" sensitive aircraft altimeter displaying an altitude of 10,180 feet.

The altimeter is calibrated to show the pressure directly

as an altitude above mean sea level, in accordance with a
mathematical model defined by the International Standard
Atmosphere (ISA).

Air Speed Indicator

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The airspeed indicator or airspeed gauge is an instrument

used in an aircraft to display the craft's airspeed, typically
in knots, to the pilot.

The face of a true airspeed indicator typical for a faster single engine aircraft

A redline mark indicates VNE, or velocity (never exceed). This is

the maximum demonstrated safe airspeed that the aircraft
must not exceed under any circumstances. The red line is
preceded by a yellow band which is the caution area, which
runs from VNO (maximum structural cruise speed) to VNE. A green

band runs from VS1 to VNO. VS1 is the stall speed with flaps

and landing gear retracted. A white band runs from VSO to

VFE. VSO is the minimum steady flight speed with flaps
extended, and VFE is the highest speed at which flaps can be
extended. Airspeed indicators in multi-engine aircraft show
a short radial red line near to the bottom of green arc for
Vmc, the minimum indicated airspeed at which the aircraft can
be controlled with the critical engine inoperative and a
blue line for VYSE, the speed for best rate of climb with the
critical engine inoperative.

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Vertical Speed Indicator

A rate-of-climb indicator, a vertical speed indicator (VSI), or a

vertical velocity indicator (VVI)) is an instrument in an
aircraft used to inform the pilot of the instantaneous rate
of descent or climb. It can be calibrated in knots, feet per
minute (101 ft/min 1 kt) or metres per second, depending
on country and type of aircraft.

Turn and bank Indicator

The turn and bank indicator shows the rate of turn and the
coordination (slip or skid) of the turn. The rate of turn is
indicated from a rate gyroscopically and the coordination
of the turn is shown by either a pendulum or a heavy ball

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mounted in a curved sealed glass tube. No pitch information

is provided. A more correct term for this instrument is Turn

and Slip because it is not the aircraft angle of bank that is


Artificial Horizon

An attitude indicator (ADI), also known as gyro horizon or

artificial horizon, is an instrument used in an aircraft to
inform the pilot of the orientation of the aircraft relative
to earth. It indicates pitch (fore and aft tilt), bank or roll
(side to side tilt) and yaw (left to right, right to left), and
is a primary instrument for flight in instrument
meteorological conditions. Attitude indicators also have
significant application under visual flight rules, though
some light aircraft do not have them installed.

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The three primary flight controls are the ailerons, elevator and rudder

Ailerons: The two ailerons, one at the outer trailing edge

of each wing, are movable surfaces that control movement
about the longitudinal axis. The movement is roll. Lowering
the aileron on one wing raises the aileron on the other.
The wing with the lowered aileron goes up because of its

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increased lift, and the wing with the raised aileron goes
down because of its decreased lift. Thus, the effect of
moving either aileron is aided by the simultaneous and
opposite movement of the aileron on the other wing.

Rods or cables connect the ailerons to each other and to

the control wheel (or stick) in the cockpit. When pressure
is applied to the right on the control wheel, the left
aileron goes down and the right aileron goes up, rolling
the airplane to the right. This happens because the down
movement of the left aileron increases the wing camber
(curvature) and thus increases the angle of attack. The
right aileron moves upward and decreases the camber,
resulting in a decreased angle of attack. Thus, decreased
lift on the right wing and increased lift on the left wing
cause a roll and bank to the right.

Elevators: The elevators control the movement of the

airplane about its lateral axis. This motion is pitch. The
elevators form the rear part of the horizontal tail
assembly and are free to swing up and down. They are
hinged to a fixed surface--the horizontal stabilizer.
Together, the horizontal stabilizer and the elevators form
a single airfoil. A change in position of the elevators
modifies the camber of the airfoil, which increases or
decreases lift.

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Like the ailerons, the elevators are connected to the

control wheel (or stick) by control cables. When forward
pressure is applied on the wheel, the elevators move
downward. This increases the lift produced by the
horizontal tail surfaces. The increased lift forces the tail
upward, causing the nose to drop. Conversely, when back
pressure is applied on the wheel, the elevators move
upward, decreasing the lift produced by the horizontal tail
surfaces, or maybe even producing a downward force. The
tail is forced downward and the nose up.

The elevators control the angle of attack of the wings.

When back pressure is applied on the control wheel, the
tail lowers and the nose raises, increasing the angle of
attack. Conversely, when forward pressure is applied, the
tail raises and the nose lowers, decreasing the angle of

Rudder: The rudder controls movement of the airplane

about its vertical axis. This motion is yaw. Like the other
primary control surfaces, the rudder is a movable surface
hinged to a fixed surface which, in this case, is the vertical
stabilizer, or fin. Its action is very much like that of the
elevators, except that it swings in a different plane--from
side to side instead of up and down. Control cables connect
the rudder to the rudder pedals.

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Trim Tabs: A trim tab is a small, adjustable hinged surface

on the trailing edge of the aileron, rudder, or elevator
control surfaces. Trim tabs are labor saving devices that
enable the pilot to release manual pressure on the primary

Some airplanes have trim tabs on all three control

surfaces that are adjustable from the cockpit; others have
them only on the elevator and rudder; and some have them
only on the elevator. Some trim tabs are the ground-
adjustable type only.

The tab is moved in the direction opposite that of the

primary control surface, to relieve pressure on the
control wheel or rudder control. For example, consider
the situation in which we wish to adjust the elevator trim
for level flight. ("Level flight" is the attitude of the
airplane that will maintain a constant altitude.) Assume
that back pressure is required on the control wheel to
maintain level flight and that we wish to adjust the
elevator trim tab to relieve this pressure. Since we are
holding back pressure, the elevator will be in the "up"
position. The trim tab must then be adjusted downward so
that the airflow striking the tab will hold the elevators in
the desired position. Conversely, if forward pressure is
being held, the elevators will be in the down position, so
the tab must be moved upward to relieve this pressure. In

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this example, we are talking about the tab itself and not
the cockpit control.

Rudder and aileron trim tabs operate on the same principle

as the elevator trim tab to relieve pressure on the rudder
pedals and sideward pressure on the control wheel,


Axis of an Airplane in Flight.

An airplane may turn about three axes. Whenever the

attitude of the airplane changes in flight (with respect to

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the ground or other fixed object), it will rotate about one

or more of these axes. Think of these axes as imaginary
axles around which the airplane turns like a wheel. The
three axes intersect at the center of gravity and each one
is perpendicular to the other two.

Longitudinal Axis: The imaginary line that extends

lengthwise through the fuselage, from nose to tail, is the
longitudinal axis. Motion about the longitudinal axis is
roll and is produced by movement of the ailerons located
at the trailing edges of the wings.

Lateral Axis: The imaginary line which extends crosswise,

wing tip to wing tip, is the lateral axis. Motion about the
lateral axis is pitch and is produced by movement of the
elevators at the rear of the horizontal tail assembly.

Vertical Axis: The imaginary line which passes vertically

through the center of gravity is the vertical axis. Motion
about the vertical axis is yaw and is produced by movement
of the rudder located at the rear of the vertical tail


The angle of incidence is measured by the angle at which the wing is

attached to the fuselage.

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An airfoil is a device which gets a useful reaction from air

moving over its surface. When an airfoil is moved through
the air, it is capable of producing lift. Wings, horizontal
tail surfaces, vertical tails surfaces, and propellers are
all examples of airfoils.

Generally the wing of small aircraft will look like the

cross-section of the figure above. The forward part of an
airfoil is rounded and is called the leading edge. The aft
part is narrow and tapered and is called the trailing edge.
A reference line often used in discussing airfoils is the
chord, an imaginary straight line joining the extremities of
the leading and trailing edges.

Angle of Incidence: The angle of incidence is the angle

formed by the longitudinal axis of the airplane and the
chord of the wing. The longitudinal axis is an imaginary line
that extends lengthwise through the fuselage from nose
to tail. The angle of incidence is measured by the angle at
which the wing is attached to the fuselage. The angle of
incidence is fixed --it normally cannot be changed by the

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Bernoulli's Principle: To understand how lift is produced, we

must examine a phenomenon discovered many years ago by
the scientist Bernoulli and later called Bernoulli's
Principle: The pressure of a fluid (liquid or gas) decreases
at points where the speed of the fluid increases. In other
words, Bernoulli found that within the same fluid, in this
case air, high speed flow is associated with low pressure,
and low speed flow with high pressure. This principle was
first used to explain changes in the pressure of fluid
flowing within a pipe whose cross-sectional area varied. In
the wide section of the gradually narrowing pipe, the fluid
moves at low speed, producing high pressure. As the pipe
narrows it must contain the same amount of fluid. In this
narrow section, the fluid moves at high speed, producing
low pressure.

An important application of this phenomenon is made in

giving lift to the wing of an airplane, an airfoil. The airfoil
is designed to increase the velocity of the airflow above
its surface, thereby decreasing pressure above the airfoil.
Simultaneously, the impact of the air on the lower surface

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of the airfoil increases the pressure below. This

combination of pressure decrease above and increase below
produces lift.

Lift: Probably you have held your flattened hand out of the
window of a moving automobile. As you inclined your hand
to the wind, the force of air pushed against it forcing your
hand to rise. The airfoil (in this case, your hand) was
deflecting the wind which, in turn, created an equal and
opposite dynamic pressure on the lower surface of the
airfoil, forcing it up and back. The upward component of
this force is lift; the backward component is drag .

Pressure is reduced is due to the smaller space the air has above the
wing than below. Air cannot go through the wing, so it must push
around it. The surface air molecules push between the wing and outer
layers of air. Due to the bump of the airfoil, the space is smaller and
the molecules must go faster. According to Bernoulli's Law, faster air
has lower air pressure, and thus the high pressure beneath the wing
pushes up to cause lift.

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Parts Of An Airplane - Level 1

Control surfaces are the moveable outer surfaces of an

airplane. These surfaces control the flow of air over the
various sections of the aircraft causing it to move in
different ways. Inside the airplane, pilots control the
movement of the surfaces with their hands or feet by
pushing, pulling or turning the controls to make the
airplane move in the proper manner.

By learning the names and functions of the various

surfaces, you will appreciate the construction, design, and
aerodynamics of the airplane.

AIRPLANE An airplane is a vehicle heavier than air,

powered by an engine, which travels through
the air by the reaction of air passing over its

FUSELAGE The fuselage is the central body portion of an

airplane which accommodates the crew and
passengers or cargo.

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COCKPIT In general aviation airplanes, the cockpit is

usually the space in the fuselage for the pilot
and the passengers: in some aircrafts it is just
the pilot's compartment.

LANDING GEAR The landing gear, located underneath the

airplane, supports it while on the ground.

WINGS Wings are the parts of airplanes which provide

lift and support the entire weight of the
aircraft and its contents while in flight
PROPELLER A propeller is a rotating blade located on the
front of the airplane. The engine turns the
propeller which most often pulls the airplane
through the air.
FLAPS Flaps are the movable sections of an airplane's
wings closest to the fuselage. They are moved
in the same direction (down) and enable the
airplane to fly more slowly.

AILERONS Ailerons are the outward movable sections of

an airplane's wings which move in opposite
directions (one up, one down). They are used in
making turns.
RUDDER The rudder is the movable vertical section of
the tail which controls lateral movement.
HORIZONTAL The horizontal stabilizer is the horizontal
STABILIZER surface of the aft part of the fuselage used
to balance the airplane.

ELEVATOR The elevator is the movable horizontal section

of the tail which causes the plane to move up
and down.

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