What Is an Aircraft Tailplane?

The tailplane of an aircraft, or horizontal stabilizer, is one of the main elements of the entire vehicle that allows for control and stability to be provided for safer and more efficient flight. The tailplane is simply a small lifting surface situated toward the back of the fuselage, though not all fixed-wing aircraft have them. If one does, they will have the appearance of two wing surfaces that extend out the sides of the tail.

During flight, conventional aerofoil profiles will cause a negative contribution to longitudinal stability, meaning that any gust or disturbance will cause the nose of the aircraft to rise in the atmosphere. With the implementation of a tailplane, a restoring nose-down pitching moment will result from the same disturbances. As such, the two will cancel one another, making the aircraft longitudinally stable.

Additionally, tailplanes also simply act as another aerofoil surface for lift generation, either creating positive or negative lift based on the design and flight regime. In many instances, the tailplane is intended to make downward force for balance, but this is not always the case. For example, some pioneer designs have used the tailplane to generate positive lift to assist the main set of wings.

For most modern aircraft with a tailplane, pilots will be provided some means of controlling the amount of lift that it provides, ensuring that nose-up or nose-down pitching moments can be achieved as required. To do this, horizontal stabilizers will regularly be fitted with a flight control surface known as an elevator. As a hinged aft surface, the elevator will allow changes in the angle of attack through the manipulation of cockpit controls or through autopilot systems.

As tailplanes are essential for the stability and control of many fixed-wing aircraft, it is important that you maintain their health and integrity with regular inspections and maintenance. If you find yourself in need of various parts and components for your MRO needs, look no further than Aerospace Buying and our unrivaled inventory of items. As you explore our catalogs, utilize our RFQ service to quickly and easily request quotes for your comparisons, and we promise turnaround times of 15 minutes or less upon the receipt of completed forms. See what we can do for you today when you connect with one of our representatives.


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March 22, 2021

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