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What Are The Primary Flight Control Systems?

The aircraft flight control system is made up of the primary aircraft flight control system and the secondary system. In the primary system, there are three components which includes the ailerons, the elevator, and the rudder. The second system consists of the wing flaps, spoilers, trim systems, and leading edge devices. These control systems are the method in which pilots can steer, and increase or decrease height. For a high level basic look at these systems, it helps to analyze the role and function of the three primary flight control surfaces.


The ailerons are flaps located on the outer ear edge of each wing. When the pilot moves the control stick to the right, the flap on the right wing turns up while the flap on the left wing turns down. This creates a difference in air pressure on each wing, with the right wing decreasing pressure below the wing, and thus decreasing lift. The opposite happens on the left wing with the wing gaining lift because the air pressure below the wing was increased. The overall effect: the aircraft is able to steer to the right.


Known also as the stabilizer, the elevator is a hinge located on the horizontal tail fin. The elevator is designed to control the pitch of the aircraft, meaning it controls the up and down movement of the nose of the aircraft. They operate in the same manner that the ailerons operate, in that when the elevator is pointed up, the plane goes up. By moving the elevator up, there is less lift on the tail and vice versa


The rudder is found on the vertical tail fin and is used with the aileron to turn the aircraft. The rudder swivels left or right, and in turn, causes the plane tail to turn in either direction. Its role is to counter the adverse yaw rotation of the plane, which is the movement on the yaw axis that moves the nose of the aircraft side to side.

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July 28, 2022

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