What is the function of elevator in aircraft?

When you think of elevators, you probably don't picture the rear of an airplane. Although the elevator is a small piece of equipment relative to the rest of an aircraft, its role is crucial. An elevator is a fixed-wing aircraft component known as a flight control surface. A flight control surface maintains an aircraft’s pitch, angle of attack, and lift. It is typically at the rear of an aircraft where it attaches to the horizontal stabilizer on a plane’s empennage.The horizontal stabilizer and elevator are both factors in stabilizing the pitch, but only the elevators contribute to pitch control. The pitch is the tendency of the aircraft’s nose to move up and down on the lateral axis.

The horizontal stabilizer and the elevator provide pitch control by way of raising or lowering the downward force put out by the stabilizer. When the elevator is facing upwards, the tail of the aircraft is forced down as the nose rises up. When the elevator is facing downwards, it has the opposite effect. While the terms are not interchangeable, the horizontal stabilizer and elevator work in tandem to help maintain control of the aircraft. The horizontal stabilizer is the aircraft’s primary control surface. It serves almost like a third wing, supplying more lift to the fuselage therefore providing stability to the aircraft.

The elevator assists in positioning the nose of the aircraft and the wings’ angle of attack. The inclination of the elevators changes the amount of lift the wing will create, thus causing the aircraft to either climb or dive. Elevators are particularly important in two aspects of flying. The first is takeoff, where the elevator must create lift on the nose of the aircraft to begin the climb up to the appropriate altitude. The second is when an aircraft is banking. In a sharp turn, the elevator can supply greater lift which allows the aircraft to have a much tighter turn. So, while an elevator is not strictly a military part, it’s an incredibly important piece of hardware for fighter jets.  

            The elevator can be found at the rear of most aircraft. Despite this, some aircraft have a different type of pitch-control surface in front of the wing. Low-speed aircraft have an additional part on the tail, called a trim tab. A trim tab is used to diminish aerodynamic forces occurring during flight. Trim tabs will adjust relative to the larger surface it is connected to, therefore not necessitating constant attention from the pilot.

            Elevators and trim tabs are just two examples of the many NSN parts we have in stock at NSN Unlimited. You can conveniently search through our entire inventory by NSN serial number or use our CAGE Code lookup feature. If you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out to us at (480) 504-1299 or sales@nsnunlimited.com.


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February 15, 2021

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