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The tail of an airplane

Pro Member Captain
Sean (SeanGa) Captain

I was wondering the other day.. does the tail of an airplane really do much?

I know the rudder is located there, and that there are several hydraulic pipes (or whatever it's called) inside the tail, but besides that, does it have other purposes?

It's such a big thing for such small purpose (that is - ofcourse - if it doesn't contribute more than mentioned above)

Tnx in advance for all answers,

Your friend, mr. curious

Edit: I'm going to comprimize everything I wrote in this post to 1 question which will give me the same answer: would an airplane be able to fly without it's tail (disregarding all pipes located inside it?)

Don Wood Guest

Airplanes are engineered to produce the most performance with the least weight for the least cost. If the tail served no purpose or could be replaced by a lighter structure, it would be. With the flying wing, it was (unsuccessfully) and with the B-2 bomber, it has been (successfully).

For most aircraft, it is not economical to do so. the elevated portion of the tail is called the vertical stabilzer and it does exactly that. It provides for stability that allows controlled flight. The rearmost portion of the stabilizer usually contains the rudder whcih provides control for turns.

The horizontal portion of the tail usually contains elevators. These are the control surfaces that are manipulated to produce up and down angles of attack which, along with power, provides climbs and descents. The elevators are usually also equipped with trim tabs. These are manipulated by the pilot to establish a flight regime (straight and level, climb, descent, etc) with minimal control pressure in the cockpit.

So, yes, the tail is necessary in almost all aircraft.

Pro Member Captain
Sean (SeanGa) Captain

that was a goddamn nice reply, and thanks a lot.

so.. on to my next question Razz

When do pilots use the rudder? Is it used regularly for e.g turns, or only to make small corrections while e.g on approach?

Pro Member Chief Captain
jarred_01 Chief Captain

SeanGa wrote:

that was a goddamn nice reply, and thanks a lot.

so.. on to my next question Razz

When do pilots use the rudder? Is it used regularly for e.g turns, or only to make small corrections while e.g on approach?

I'm no expert on the tech aspects of flight, but I'll have a quick go and hopefully Don Wood will be able to help you out (sorry Don! Embarassed)

Basically the pilot needs rudder to when turning to keep the aircraft 'in balance'. Next time you are flying on FS, have a look at you turn coordinator gauge and you will notice that if you turn using just the ailerons the ball will slip out of the middle of the gauge and in the direction of your turn. While turning, apply rudder in the direction of the ball until the ball is centered in the gauge once again. You are now 'in balance'.

Another use for rudder is like you said for small corrections in direction while on apporach or to keep your correct heading if you have a crosswind. If your settings for FS are realistic, you will notice that when you apply throttle your aircraft swings to the side, this is due to P-factor, or torque. But why does this happen? Basically becuase the propellor is moving clockwise, and the 'draft' of air that the prop thrusts back twists under and over the aeroplane in a sort of 'corkscrew' manner, and hits the vertical stabiliser on one side, causing the plane to yaw. Therefore a considerable amount of right rudder will need to be applied. If you then decrease power, the plane will yaw to the right, and a little left rudder will need to be applied, however I'm not sure if FS simulates power decreasements well.

So you now know the resons for pilots having to use rudder. But what happens if you don't use rudder in a turn - the end result will be a unbalanced plane, and eventually, a spiral dive. I'm not sure at what speeds and turn angles spiral dives occurs though.

So that's a rough guide to rudder, hopefully other members will be able to add on and explain better than me!

Pro Member Captain
Sam (SamIntel) Captain

You use the rudder to help in your turns, it keeps then cordnated. If you ever go into a stall, you would use the rudder to keep the plane from banking/turning instead of the ailerons. You also use the rudder in cross wind landings, skips, and skids. Also when you land you jiggle it quickly once your on the runway to help slow the aircraft, so you don't have to stress the brakes.

Pro Member Captain
Sean (SeanGa) Captain

thanks guys.

and WOW jarred that came as a shock to me lol.. so, basically, everytime a plane turns it's using it's rudder? I always thought the ailerons were enough.. and I've NEVER used the rudder to turn, heh..

that torque thing is really interesting.. I have never noticed it before, maybe my settings aren't as realistic as possible. I'll check it out Smile

thanks again! and by all means, if someone else wants to elaborate on something or post anything else, please go ahead. this is very interesting Smile

Pro Member Chief Captain
Tailhook Chief Captain

For what it's worth, Airbus seem to be doing away with convention as they call the vertical stabilzer now VTP - Vertical Tail Plane. This is according to a docu I watched on the construction/assembly of the 380. Think

Pro Member Captain
Sean (SeanGa) Captain

VTP...

Vertical - ok
Tail - ok
Plane - what the fuck? is the tail a plane? heh

Pro Member Chief Captain
Tailhook Chief Captain

If you check your dictionary you will find that the word plane has more definitions than you're familiar with.

Pro Member Captain
Sean (SeanGa) Captain

can't wait Read

Pro Member Chief Captain
Manuel Agustin Clausse (Agus0404) Chief Captain

Tailhook wrote:

For what it's worth, Airbus seem to be doing away with convention as they call the vertical stabilzer now VTP - Vertical Tail Plane. This is according to a docu I watched on the construction/assembly of the 380. Think

I didn't know this... Read

Pro Member Chief Captain
jarred_01 Chief Captain

Tailhook wrote:

For what it's worth, Airbus seem to be doing away with convention as they call the vertical stabilzer now VTP - Vertical Tail Plane. This is according to a docu I watched on the construction/assembly of the 380. Think

I think I heard that in a docu too, why can they not just keep the same naming as to not confuse people! Laughing

Pro Member Chief Captain
Tailhook Chief Captain

jarred_01 wrote:

Tailhook wrote:

For what it's worth, Airbus seem to be doing away with convention as they call the vertical stabilzer now VTP - Vertical Tail Plane. This is according to a docu I watched on the construction/assembly of the 380. Think

I think I heard that in a docu too, why can they not just keep the same naming as to not confuse people! Laughing

You can imagine that I too was trying to unravel this mystery.
Disclaimer: These are my own conclusions and I take no responsibility if the public is mislead in any way by my dabblings in linguistic idiosyncracies Smile

Imagine a huge hangar where one of those gigantic aircraft is being assembled. Imagine someone yelling out 'vertical stabiliser'... far too long in such an invorenment. One could argue to abbreviate it to V.S. - but that's already been taken, meaning Vetenary Surgeon... not appropriate.
Hence - VTP, loud and clear. Besides, VS could easily be mistaken for VF in a noisy invironment. Ever wondered why aviators use 'fower' instead of four and 'niner' instead of nine?
'Vertical Stabiliser' - nothing wrong or confusing about this term, crystal clear. Yet, aren't there other stabilisers on todays complex aircraft?
Our language changes daily and we'll just have to keep on learning and adapting. Vertical Tale Plane - VTP... loud and clear Very Happy

Don Wood Guest

jarred_01: In the interest of linguistic precision, while you have the concept correct, the terms you are using are wrong.

When you are using rudder and aileron to make a turn, you are not keeping the aircraft in balance, you are keeping it coordinated. A coordinated turn is one in which the correct amount of aileron and rudder are applied to achieve the turn in the most efficient way possible for that turn in that aircraft. The evidence of a coordinated turn is the ball in the turn and bank indicator is centered. An uncoordinated turn is evidenced by the ball being uncentered and is corrected by applying sufficient rudder pressure on the same side as the ball is to center it.

Most turns should be coordinated but there are times when an uncoordianted turn is necessary. These include slips and skids to either lose altitude more rapidly than normal or to correct for crosswind drift on final to landing.

Balance (in aviation) means something else entirely. All aircraft have a changing center of gravity. Every a/c has design limits on how far forward or aft the actual center of gravity can be and still maintain flight safety. The art that all pilots and/or dispatchers must consider is how to load the aircraft so the center of gravity remains within allowable limits. This is called balance (as in weight and balance). It is one of FAA's requirements that the weight and balance be computed for every flight to insure that both remain within the allowable envelope.

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