AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

The Difference Between Flaps and Ailerons

Flight control surfaces are devices present on countless aircraft, allowing pilots to govern flight attitude for more efficient control. Ailerons and flaps are two control surfaces that are utilized during critical flight stages such as take-off, landing, and turning, making it important that pilots are well aware of how they are used. Despite having similar appearances and placement, flaps and ailerons serve distinct roles. In this blog, we will discuss flaps and ailerons in brief detail, allowing you to better understand their importance during flight.

Flaps are considered mechanical extensions of wings, often located on the trailing edge between the fuselage and ailerons. Controlled by the pilot from within the cockpit, flaps are capable of extending into the flow of air for the means of producing lift, slowing down the aircraft, and decreasing overall stalling speeds. To carry out such effects, the flap adjusts the camber or curve of the airfoil as it is deployed. As the use of flaps will change various aspects of flight, it is important that the pilot takes into account the weight of the aircraft, wind speed, and runway length.

Flaps are most often employed during the take-off process, allowing pilots to minimize the distance that they have to travel on the ground before liftoff. By using flaps, the total amount of lift generated by the aircraft increases, enabling take-off at a slower speed and with less distance. Flaps are also useful when landing as well, permitting the aircraft to approach the runway while lowering their altitude without risking an increase in airspeed. Carrying out a steeper landing angle while managing speed, landing operations can be executed efficiently and safely.

Ailerons also find implementation on the wings’ trailing edge, and they are located just a bit further from the fuselage as compared to the flaps. With the use of ailerons, pilots can easily bank and roll across the longitudinal axis. While control surfaces such as flaps are often deployed equally on both sides, ailerons will move opposite from one another. This means that while one aileron may be deflected upwards into the flow of air, the other will deflect downwards. In order to manage the positioning of ailerons, such control devices are linked together by a series of cables, pulleys, bellcranks, push-pull tubes, and other components.

To optimally take advantage of ailerons, it is important to have a clear idea of how ailerons function. As an example, if the pilot were to push the cockpit yoke control to the left, it would cause the left aileron to begin deflecting upwards as the right deflects downwards. As the left aileron rises, drag will increase on that wing and cause it to lower. Simultaneously, the right wing will rise up in response. This general process allows for the aircraft to bank, ensuring that a pilot can carry out smooth and balanced turns.

As flaps and ailerons promote safe and efficient flight, it is important that such control surfaces are well maintained. At Part Orbit, we can help you source the various flaps, ailerons, and other aircraft parts that you require with competitive pricing and rapid lead-times. Due to our steadfast dedication to quality, we conduct operations with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. Our industry experts are on standby 24/7x365, meaning that customers can receive person-to-person every step of the purchasing process to ensure that all needs are thoroughly met. If you are ready to begin procurement, send us a completed RFQ form at your earliest convenience, and a dedicated account manager will reach out with a personalized quote for your comparisons in just 15 minutes or less.


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