Time for Flight 1.3 – Basic Aircraft Structures & Construction for Aircraft Pilots

A pilot must understand, appreciate and respect the aircraft structural limitations for safe flight

First posted on

Last updated on

Contributed By

RV 14 Cutaway from Wikipedia

Time for Flight -Home Series Part 1 Step 3

What Are Aircraft Structures?

Aircraft structures are the parts of an aircraft that take the loads and stresses for the maneuvers associated with the aircraft. Structures also give aircraft their distinctive shapes and strengths for specific functions. An aircraft can carry loads and perform the intended missions and manoeuvres within a designed safety standard because of the way it was designed and constructed.

Small parts and items are fabricated or manufactured and pieced together. These become parts, sub-assemblies and assemblies. They are carefully integrated to become main components of an aircraft.

The materials used to construct these main components include a variety of materials. Popular materials used include,

  • Aircraft Aluminium
  • Steel
  • Composites
  • Plastics
  • Titanium

The Pilot Training System Aircraft Structures Video

The video summarises the key points of the Aircraft Structures and Construction subject. Thoroughly understanding this subject is mandatory when teaching yourself to be an aircraft pilot. The video above describes key points on the subject systematically and clearly.

Strengthen your knowledge on this subject by further reading and understanding chapter 3 of the FAA Pilot’s Hand Book of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK). It expands the contents of this video and contains more information to make you a better aircraft pilot who will practise safe flight. Your self-teaching effort to enable you to fly like a real aircraft pilot in the free flight simulator will become more meaningful when you appreciate this subject.

What Are The Basic Components of an Airplane?

The fuselage, wings, empennage, landing gears and powerplant are defined by the FAA PHAK as classic main components of an aircraft.

Other parts and subcomponents exists within each main aircraft component. The main components take on specific structural functions. Together, they provide the aircraft its capability for safe flight. More illustrations and explanations of greater detail are in the PHAK.

The above main structural component are similar to those of a Cessna 172 aircraft. It is a very popular aircraft type used by many flight schools and flying clubs. It will also be the aircraft used with the free flight simulator of FlightGear for your free flight training. View the actual Cessna 172 structure in the video below starting from 00:46 seconds to 2 minutes and 27 seconds into the video.


Explore different configurations of other aircraft types on the internet. Look up this additional and interesting information for a jet airliner to enrich your knowledge here.

What Are The 4 Forces of an Aircraft in Flight?

Lift, weight, thrust and drag are the four basic forces acting on an aircraft in flight. The desired flight manoeuvres achieved by varying the value of these forces happen by moving the flight controls and engine power together or in isolation. Controlling an aircraft in flight occur about three imaginary axis. These manoeuvres exert stresses on the structure of an aircraft

Watch this 2-minute video for greater clarity.

Why is Knowledge on Aircraft Structures important for an Aircraft Pilot?

It is important because it sets the understanding for manoeuvring an aircraft to achieve safe flight!

A pilot must operate the aircraft within the capability and stresses of its intended design and purpose. Aircraft structures are subjected to loads and stresses every time it is on the ground and in the air. Reckless handling on the ground and in the air will cause the structures to fail as it induces undue stresses. Serious damage consequences on lives and properties are dreaded incidents an aircraft pilot must avoid.

An aircraft pilot who may also own an aircraft can prevent unnecessary maintenance expenses if he is knowledgeable on all related subjects, including aircraft structures. Parking a metal aircraft in a hangar, for instance, will prevent rain from causing corrosion. Unnecessary and expensive costs for repairing these structures can be avoided.

Photo by Lukas Souza on Unsplash

Self studying at your own pace while repeating these lessons as often as necessary is the big plus of the free home flight training system. It truly allows anyone to start ground training, albeit with the caveats mentioned earlier.

More free ground-ground training resources with greater detail on specific subjects can also be found. You will quickly learn where to find them as you progress with the free Pilot Training System.

Aircraft Structures – Essential Knowledge Even on a Home Flight Simulator?

A pilot can feel abnormal behaviour of an aircraft when operated beyond its design stress and load limits. Abnormal aircraft behaviour signals an impending breach of a flight procedure and enables a pilot to make the necessary adjustments to prevent structural load limitations.

The flight simulator however, will not manifest these abnormalities. Hence, the flight simulator pilot must operate the aircraft used in the flight simulator correctly by following the practicea laid down in the Aircraft Pilot Operating Handbook. Knowledge of the aircraft’s construction and structures will set the right attitude to practice safe flying in the flight simulator. Practising beneficial habits will soon show its worth when learning to fly in a real aircraft.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Benefits of The Pilot Training System Video

The materials on the video is a concise version of the PHAK. It is an excellent summary at the basic level for flight training and is if you want to be even a commercial airline pilot.

Understanding the information at this basic level of the subject has merits. For a start, you will be able to increase your knowledge starting from a strong base. Further research and reading on the continually evolving aircraft structures will make you a good and relevant pilot. Your continual learning habit to improve will be your greatest asset as an aircraft pilot.

You should also know that there are much more resources than those referred to in this article. Strive to improve and expand your knowledge base from these resources on the internet, many of which are free.

As described in Part 1.1 of this series, do the quiz related to the topic to see how far you have understood the subject. The better you score, the greater confidence you will develop. Strengthening your knowledge on your journey of teaching yourself to fly for free must never be taken for granted.



We welcome your insightful comments, views, and arguments. Please send your email to info@esbaviation.com.

Mohd Raffick Bin Mohd Nor

An extremely passionate veteran aviator and Aircraft Engineer. He has been involved with youth development in aviation for more than 50 years. Currently the principal contributor and founder of the The Budding Aviator’s Hub

Latest Posts

1 2

Check out our other posts