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Parts of an Airplane

Let’s go over the parts of an airplane.

During this topic, feel free to download the image below and print it out to write down all the names of the parts as we walk around the aircraft and explain them to you.

Airplane Part Descriptions

  • Main Gear Strut: Supports the tires and breaks. Acts as a “shock absorber” for landing.
  • Brake Caliper: Uses pads hydraulically pushed together against the disk/rotor to produce friction and slow rotation of the tire.
  • Tire & Wheel Assembly: Allows the aircraft to be maneuvered on the ground.
  • Fuel Sump: Used for fuel sampling and removal of foreign contaminants such as water.
  • Fuel Vent: As fuel is sucked into the engine, the fuel vent allows the pressure in the fuel tank to equalize, preventing a vacuum-effect resulting in fuel starvation.
  • Jack-point: Used to “lift up” the aircraft to perform work on components such as the landing gear.
  • Tie-down Point: Used to tie the aircraft down (usually with ropes or chains) to prevent aircraft movement in high winds.
  • Fuel Cap: Keeps fuel in the tank.
  • Spinner: Increases aerodynamic efficiency of air moving around the propeller.
  • Propeller: Generates thrust through the engine.
  • Nose Gear Assembly: Similar to the main gear assembly, except:
    • No brake caliper or disk/rotor
    • Wheel can be adjusted left or right by use of the rudder pedals to turn the airplane.
  • Pitot-Vain: Used to measure ram air pressure for aircraft instrumentation.
  • Static Port: Used to measure ambient air pressure for aircraft instrumentation.
  • Stall/Angle of Attack Sensor: Provides an audible or visual indication to the pilot that the critical angle of attack is about to or has been exceeded.
  • Aileron: Allows the pilot to adjust aircraft roll.
  • Flap: Used to increase the amount of lift generated by the wing to allow the airplane to fly at slower airspeeds, beneficial for takeoff and landing.
  • Stabilator: Allows the pilot to adjust aircraft pitch.
  • Anti-Servo & Trim Tab: Increases aircraft stability by assisting in the re-centering of controls.
  • Rudder: Allows the pilot to adjust aircraft yaw through use of the rudder pedals.
  • V-Shaped Antenna: VOR Antenna used for aircraft navigation.
  • White Antennas: COM antennas
  • Black Antenna: For the Emergency Location Transmitter
  • Dome-shaped Antenna: Antenna for the aircraft GPS system
  • Beacon Light: Switched on prior to engine start and kept on until after engine shutdown. Alerts surrounding individuals that the aircraft is operating.
  • Strobe Lights: High-intensity interval lights allowing the aircraft to easily be spotted.
  • Nav Lights: Colored lights that allow other pilots to determine the aircraft’s flight path (is it headed towards me or away from me?)
  • Bottom Antenna: Used for automatic direction finder “ADF” navigation instrumentation.
  • Shark Fin Antenna on Belly: Used for the Transponder, a unit that allows the aircraft to share its position and certain attributes with air traffic control radar facilities.
  • Vents: Used to cool both the cabin and aircraft instrumentation.


What’s that part called?

Knowing the proper names of the instruments isn’t going to make or break you as a pilot, however, it will certainly make things easier in communicating with your instructor and other pilots, as well as the mechanics (often referred to as A&P’s) working on your airplane.