What is an Aircraft Aileron

While many may be familiar with the wings of aircraft and how they generally affect the ability of flight, others may not be aware of the smaller wing components that assist in manipulating lift, drag, and other aerodynamic forces in order to improve flight efficiency. As a small, hinged section placed on the trailing edge of aircraft wings, ailerons are components that alter lift on aircraft. With aircraft ailerons, pilots may govern the roll of the aircraft, allowing them to more efficiently control direction. Due to their benefits and high usage during flight operations, understanding how they work is important for safe flying.

As stated before, the aircraft ailerons are typically placed on the outboard edge of a wing, and their close proximity to the wing tip increases their movement capabilities. Rectangular in shape, aileron assemblies are typically composed of rigid metals to maintain stability. On aircraft that utilize such flight devices, ailerons always come in a set, and the aileron assembly left and right sections work together in order to increase and decrease lift as dictated by pilot control.

In general, the aircraft ailerons function to affect the angle of attack of a wing and thus its lift. By lowering an aileron on one side of the aircraft, that particular wing’s angle of attack is increased which causes it to produce more lift. This results in the wing with greater lift raising up, allowing for the aircraft to bank towards the lowered wing. From within the aircraft, pilots can govern the aileron flight surfaces, and moving the steering wheel or flight controls will cause the ailerons to adjust according to the input direction of the pilot.

While ailerons are very useful for more efficient banking and rolling, utilizing such assemblies causes an increase of drag. Drag is the aerodynamic force that acts against all of the aircraft as it moves through the air, and induced drag is generated by a difference in the air and object’s velocity. By activating ailerons on either side of the aircraft, the wingtip rises into the air, and the nose then moves away from the turn. This turn affects the direction of the aircraft and is an unwanted result of actuating ailerons, thus it is known as adverse yaw. Depending on the type of aircraft and its hardware, rudders and other flight surfaces may be used to combat the adverse yaw that is caused by the nose during aileron actuation.

While ailerons may be similar in appearance and placement to other flight surfaces such as flaps, the two should not be confused with one another. Similar to ailerons, flaps manipulate the chord line of the wing in order to affect the aerodynamic forces exerted on the aircraft, but their deployment is equal on each wingtip. Through this operation, flaps can provide stopping power to decrease airspeed, permitting the pilot to conduct safe approaches during landing operations at steep pitches. Some aircraft may feature flight surfaces that combine the capabilities of ailerons and flaps, and these are known as flaperons.

With the ability to control banking and the yaw of the aircraft, pilots can govern direction more efficiently during flight operations. Due to their benefits and importance, ensuring that your aircraft ailerons are well maintained and replaced as necessary is crucial for optimal flight. At Aerospace Buying, we can help you procure the aileron assembly left and right wing components and other aerospace parts that you need with ease, providing rapid lead-times and competitive pricing on all that we carry. Take the first step of the purchasing process today by requesting a quote with our Instant RFQ system provided through our website and experience how we can fulfill all of your operational needs.


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March 22, 2021

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