Q:

How do flight control systems work?

A:

Quick Answer

Aircraft flight control systems work through pilot-activated controls in the cockpit maneuvering mechanical linkages and hydraulics connected to rudders and flaps on the outside of the plane. When adjusted, these mechanisms alter the airflow across the surface of the plane and change the flight trajectory.

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Full Answer

Flight control systems work with primary, secondary and auxiliary flight controls. The primary system consists of elevator, aileron and rudder controls. The secondary system has the elevator trip tab and rudder trip tab system. The auxiliary controls handle the flap control system and the high lift devices.

Aircraft flight control systems consist of control surfaces, cockpit controls, connecting linkages and operating mechanisms. Engine controls adjust speed. The elevator of the primary system handles the horizontal stabilizers of the tail. They move in consort when the pilot adjusts the control stick forward or backward. The ailerons move in opposite directions, are located on the trailing edge and tips of the wings, and cause the plane to bank. The rudder is typically mounted in the empennage on the back edge of the wing. The pilot's pedals cause the rudders to deflect and adjust the plane's yaw.

The elevator trim tab of the secondary system balances the control force to maintain aerodynamics across the tail. The rudder and aileron trim tabs counter the effects of slipstream.

Flaps, hinged surfaces on the trailing edge of the wings, are extended to reduce stalling speed and increase drag. Spoilers are one type of high lift device, and are used to disrupt air flow over the top of the wing.

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