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Course Name:- Aircraft structures I

By Ejigayehu Lemma(MSc.)

- Fuselage - Wing - Empennage - Flight control surface - Landing gear - Power plant structure - Doors and windows

To understand the structural components of aircraft and the stresses imposed on those components

1. AIRCRAFT Any structure, machine which is designed to be supported in the air either by dynamic reaction with the air or by its own buoyancy. Eg. Aero planes, airships, gliders, balloons

basic assembled structure of any aircraft (except that of lighter than air aircraft) or rocket necessary to support the aerodynamic and inertia loads imposed by the weight of the vehicle and its contents. Includes the fuselage, wings, tail boom, nacelle, cowling, fairings, stabilizers, control surfaces and landing gear.

Brief History of Aircraft Construction

Early dreamers
Greek myth Daedalus with his son Icarus, flew with wings made of feathers and wax.

yrinth on Crete where they were imprisoned by King Minos. Ignoring Daedaluss warning, Icarus flew too close to the sun. His wings melted and he plunged into the sea. Fall of Icar

rporation. All rights reserved.

Leonardo Da Vinci made suggestive drawings of the orinthopter, a parachute and a helicopter around 1500 a.d.

The Montogolfier brothers made their hot air balloon from linen cloth lined with paper and flew their unmanned balloon in June, 1783

Otto Lilienthal made about 2000 successful flights with gliders made of willow wands and waxed cotton in the 1890s

The Wright brothers made their successful flight in 1903, at Kitty hawk, north Carolina

The early flying machines produced by the Wright brothers, and others had wings made of bent wooden ribs covered with fabric and a body of open framework made of strips of bamboo held together with piano wire.

The next generation of airplanes before the first world war were built with a wood truss and had wings braced with struts and wires.
The occupants sat in open cockpits

The Welded thin walled steel tubing truss came as a major breakthrough in the later years of the first world war replacing the wood. The stressed skin construction were the skin carries all of the structural loads was developed and widely used in the 1920s and 1930s

Thin sheets of wood veneer were molded in to a ply wood structure forming the fuselage Laminated wooden rings were built at critical locations to provide attachment points for the wing, engine and landing gear The wood was later replaced with aluminum alloy sheets which were riveted into thin sheet metal formers.

The development of pressurized transport jet aircraft created new challenges in aircraft structure design
In 1954, two de Havilland comets vanished during flight suffering damages caused by pressurization loads around rectangular cutouts A new system of fail safe construction was developed where doublers are installed at strategic locations and dual alternate load paths are provided.


Lighter than Air

Supported in the air by their own buoyancy A.Balloons: - non-porous spherical bags filled with light air
- Gas filled - Hot Air

B. Airships :- are engine driven and can be Steered.

rting structure; the pressure of the buoyant gas maintains the bags shape. Blimps are rarely used for their original purpose of transportation, but their hovering capabilities, high vi

icrosoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Heavier than Air

Supported in the air by the dynamic reaction of the aircraft structure with the air


Can be classified as Fixed wing aircraft Have pairs of fixed wings to generate lift forward movement of the wing through the air generates lift
Eg. Airplane, glider

Monoplane - has a single pair of fixed wings Biplane has two pairs of wings Sea plane lands on water surface Amphibian can land both on water surface and on land.

2. Rotary Wing A rotating airfoil shaped wing generates lift E.g. Helicopter, Autogiro

Main Structural Components of fixed wing aircraft

The fuselage The wing The landing gear The stabilizers Flight control Surfaces

These structural components are an assembly of structural members The structural members are designed to carry loads or resist stress Stress- The internal force of a material to resist stress

Basic Stresses
Tension Compression shear

is the stress that resists a force that tends to pull a material apart

is the stress that resists a crushing force

Shearis a stress that resists the force tending to slide one layer of material over an adjacent layer

2. Combination stresses Bending is a combination of tension and compression Torsion- is a stress that produces twisting

Basic requirements to be met by aircraft structures

High aerodynamic cleanness Low weight of construction with necessary strength and stiffness Simplicity of operation Ensuring high reliability combat survivability and flight safety Production effectiveness.

The Fuselage
The main body of the aircraft on which the wings, tail, and landing gear are attached. Purpose Provides space for cargo, controls, accessories, passengers and other equipment Provides attachment points for the engines

Convenience for accommodating the crew, passenger, equipment and cargoes, Sufficient bending and torsional stiffness. Must be strong and light in weight Must be streamlined Must be air conditioned or ventilated Must be pressurized if the aircraft flies at high altitudes must be provided with emergency exist

Types of Construction
Three general types :- depending upon the method by which stresses transmitted to the structure
1. 2. 3. Truss Monocoque Semi-monocoque

A rigid frame work of bars, beams, rods, tubes and wires. The members are joined together by riveting or welding

Longitudinal longerons are the primary load carrying members Lateral bracing is placed at regular intervals. The frame work is covered with fabric, wood, aluminum or fiberglass

There are two types of truss construction

1. Pratt truss Vertical and diagonal members connect the longerons The diagonal members can be wires (carry only tension) or rigid tubing (can carry both tension and compression)

2. Warren truss The longerons are connected only with diagonal members Material Steel and aluminum alloy

Stressed Skin Construction

All the loads are carried in the outside skin Can be built in a clean, smooth and efficient aerodynamic shape

Full Monocoque
Is a metal tube or cone without internal structural members Formers can be used to give shape Relies on the strength of the skin to carry stresses

Semi Monocoque
Has additional longitudinal members (Longerons and stringers) to reinforce the skin The skin is riveted to stringers which in turn are riveted to the formers

The Structure includes

1.Skin (plating)- aluminum alloy, titanium, and stainless steel 2. Longitudinal Members
Stringers Longerons

3.Vertical members
Frames or formers bulkheads

The Wing
Purpose  Produces lift  Provides attachment points for the landing gear, engines and the aileron  Aids in lateral and directional stability

Wing is essentially a beam which gathers and transmits all the aerodynamic loads to the central fuselage attachment

Minimum possible drag Minimum value of product (Cl-S) Maximum aerodynamic quality Presence of free volume.

Design Depends on the intended use, size, weight and speed of the aircraft Location is usually attached to the fuselage

Straight wing : If the leading edge of a wing is perpendicular to the airflow, it is called a straight wing Swept wing : If the leading edge of a wing meets the airflow at an angle, it is called a swept wing

Straight wing

Swept wing

Rectangle (Wright brothers)


Compound (Space shuttle) 7.2 Trapezoid (F18) S=13 Cr=15 Ct=6 Triangle (Concorde) S=42.5 Cr=90.75 30.5 35.7 60

Trapezoid (Boeing 747)

S=40 C=6

S=81.3 Cr=54.3 Ct=13.3

Wing box Fixed leading edge Fixed trailing edge Ailerons Spoilers Flaps Slats



Leading edge SPAN (b)

Tip Trailing edge

Leading edge is the portion of the wing front of the front spar Trailing edge is the portion of the wing back of rear spar The chord is the distance between the leading edge and trailing edge Wing box is portion of the wing between the front spar and rear spar Ribs are the airfoil shaped members from leading edge to trailing edge Span is the distance between the root and tip of the wing Aspect ratio AR = B2/A

Types of wing construction

Based on number of spars Mono spar Two spar Box Beam

Based on how they are supported 1. Cantilever- doesnt need external support 2. Semi cantilever- needs external support

Based on how stresses are transmitted Truss Stressed skin

Truss type
The spars are separated by compression members The truss is held together with high strength steel wires. The compression members carry the compressive stresses, while the drag and anti-drag wires carry the tensile forces. The structure carries the entire load. The skin is usually not a stress- carrying member.

Stressed skin
A metal skin is riveted to stringers and ribs The stringers are also riveted to the skin and the ribs The ribs transfer the stresses to the spars

Sandwich (bonded honeycomb)

Metal bonded honeycomb Fiber glass composite

Typical wing shapes

Wing Configuration
Low wing High wing Mid Wing Dihedral wing Gull wing Inverted gull wing

Tail unit
The empennage
Includes the tail boom, vertical stabilizer, and the horizontal stabilizer

The stabilizers
Horizontal stabilizer Vertical stabilizer

Horizontal stabilizer
Purpose- provides longitudinal stability and control Provides attachment point for the elevator Construction- similar to the wing x Truss x Stressed skin x Bonded honey comb

Vertical Stabilizer
provides directional stability and control - Provides attachment point for the rudder

- Construction
- similar to the horizontal stabilizer

- Location
- usually attached at the rear of the fuselage

Control Surface
Are hinged or moveable surfaces to control the attitude of the aircraft

Primary control surfaces

1.The elevator 2.The ailerons 3.The rudder

Combination control surface Ruddervators (V-tail) functions as a rudder and elevator Elevons- serves the functions of the elevator and aileron Flaperons- functions as a flap and aileron Stabilator- a hinged moveable horizontal stabilizer which can be used for pith control

Secondary control surfaces

Functionprovides a means of trimming the aircraft Assists the pilot to move the main control surface

Location- hinged at the trailing edge of the main control surfaces

Corrugated skin Bonded honeycomb Stressed skin

Trim tabs Servo tabs Balance tabs Spring tabs

uxiliary control surfaces

1.Trailing edge flaps 2.Leading edge flaps 3.Leading edge slats 4.spoilers

Plain flap Fowler flap Split flap Segmented flap

Fabric covered truss Stressed skin Bonded honeycomb

usually hinged or mounted on the trailing edge of the wings

Can be actuated mechanically, hydraulically or electrically

Spoilers and Speed Brakes

to reduce lift to increase drag to aid the aileron in lateral control to reduce speed of the aircraft during decent and after landing

Leading edge flaps

increase the camber of the wing and provide greater lift at lower airspeeds

usually hinged on the leading edge normally flush with the lower surface of the wing

Can be actuated mechanically, electrically or hydraulically

4. Leading Edge Slats

Purpose to reduce the stalling speed and increase lift at lower airspeeds Location mounted on the leading edge of the wing Construction similar to trailing edge flaps Operation normally flush with the wing leading edge When extended move forward and open a slot to allow air flow and prevent stalling Some aircraft have fixed slots

The Landing Gear (Under Carriage)

supports the aircraft during ground operations Dampens vibrations while towing and taxing Cushions the landing impact

 Location- is attached to the fuselage or the wing  Extending and retracting systems
Mechanical Electrical Hydraulic Can be fixed or retractable

Has shock absorbers to cushion the landing impact and dampen vibrations
Shock chord Spring gear Spring oleo Air oleo

Spring gear

Skis are used for take off and landing on snow or ice Floats are used for those aircraft which can take off and land on water surfaces

A completely enclosed water tight structure attached to an aircraft to provide buoyancy and stability while landing on water surfaces.



Landing gear arrangement

- Conventional has two main wheels and one tail wheel - Tricycle- two main wheels and a nose wheel

Tricycle landing gear

Two main wheels (aft of the CG) and a nose wheel Widely used on modern airplanes Advantages
Allows more forceful application of the brakes with out nosing over Offers better visibility Tends to prevent ground looping

Nacelles or Pods
Are streamlined enclosures used to cover the engines The structure consists of skin, cowling, structural members, the fire wall and engine mounts

The cowling
Is the removable covering of the engines found on areas, which need regular access.

The engine mount

Is the frame that supports the engine and attaches it to the fuselage or the wing Can made from welded steel tubing or formed sheet metal

Main Structural Components of A Helicopter

The fuselage The main rotor The tail rotor The landing gear

The fuselage
Has similar features as the fuselage of fixed wing aircraft

The main rotor

is the component that produces lift It is also used for control