Airplanes are transportation devices
which are designed to move people and cargo from one place to another. Airplanes
come in many different shapes and sizes depending on the mission of the
aircraft. The airplane shown on this slide is a turbine-powered airliner which
has been chosen as a representative aircraft.
The fuselage, or body of the airplane, is a long hollow tube which holds all the
pieces of an airplane together. The fuselage is hollow to reduce weight. As with
most other parts of the airplane, the shape of the fuselage is normally
determined by the mission of the aircraft. A supersonic fighter plane has a very
slender, streamlined fuselage to reduce the drag associated with high speed
flight. An airliner has a wider fuselage to carry the maximum number of
passengers. On an airliner, the pilots sit in a cockpit at the front of the
fuselage. Passengers and cargo are carried in the rear of the fuselage and the
fuel is usually stored in the wings. For a fighter plane, the cockpit is
normally on top of the fuselage, weapons are carried on the wings, and the
engines and fuel are placed at the rear of the fuselage.
The weight of an aircraft is distributed all along the aircraft. The fuselage,
along with the passengers and cargo, contribute a significant portion of the
weight of an aircraft. The center of gravity of the aircraft is the average
location of the weight and it is usually located inside the fuselage. In flight,
the aircraft rotates around the center of gravity because of torques generated
by the elevator, rudder, and ailerons. The fuselage must be designed with enough
strength to withstand these torques.
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