In the first part of this exercise you learnt the names in English of the main parts of an aircraft (e.g. fuselage, wings, cockpit etc...). In this part, you are going to learn the names (and what they are used for) of some more advanced parts on the outside of an aircraft. These are the parts of an aircraft which are used to make the plane move (go up and down, and left and right).

To both learn and (more importantly) remember the names of these important aircraft parts in English, first read the below text and then do the quiz/text after it.

I would recommend that you do the first part of this exercise before you do this because some of the vocabulary in it is used here.

To see our other exercises on aviation English vocabulary, go to our aviation English exercise menu.

To help you know what the parts are, when reading the text look at the below drawing of an aircraft. This drawing shows all the parts of an aircraft you'll learn in the exercise except one (the spoilers).

aircraft image

Exercise: Describing more parts of a plane

In the following conversation, Peter (a professional pilot) explains to Juan (a Spanish trainee pilot) the names in English of the different parts of an airplane.

From using both the text and the image of an aircraft above, try to guess what each aircraft part in bold in the text is. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Peter:'So now, I am going to ask you about some other parts of an aircraft.'

Juan:'Ok.'

Peter:'On the wings there are various panels/parts which are used to control the aircraft.'

Juan:'To help the plane to take off, slow down and to move left or right.'

Peter:'That's right. So, what are the name of the panels/parts attached to the back part of the wings next to the fuselage that are used to help the airplane take off from the runway and to slow it down when landing?'

Juan:'I think they are called the flaps. But they are not the only panels/parts attached to the back part of the wings, are they?'

Peter:'No they aren't. There is a panel/part attached at the back of each wing near the tip/end which are used to turn the aircraft either left or right. Do you know what these are called?'

Juan:'I think they are called the ailerons.'

Peter:'That's correct. And what about the panels/parts on the top of the wing in front of the flaps, which are used to make an aircraft descend/go down more quickly?'

Juan:'I know this. They are called the spoilers. They are also used to slow the plane down when the plane has landed on the runway.'

Peter:'They do. So now let's look at the back or tail of an aircraft. There are two types of small wings attached to the fuselage and are fixed (they don't move). One which is vertical and the other which is horizontal. Do you know what these are called?'

Juan:'The one which is vertical is called the fin.'

Peter:'And the small wings which are horizontal which are under the fin at each side of it?'

Juan:'They are called the tailplanes.'

Peter:'Perfect. Although neither the fin and the tailplanes move, they each have a panel/part which does. So what is the name of the panel/part at the back of the fin which is used to help the aircraft turn left or right?'

Juan:'It's the same as on a boat or ship, it's called a rudder.'

Peter:'That's right. So to end, tell me what the names of the panels/parts are at the back of the tailplanes?'

Juan:'They are called the elevators.'

Peter:'And what are they used to do?'

Juan:'They are used to make the nose of the aircraft either point up (so the plane climbs/goes up) or point down (so the plane descends/goes down).'

Peter:'That's correct. Well done.'


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If you want or need to get a pilot license, I recommend that you use the Complete Private Pilot Training Course by Bruce Hogan. It's contains everything you need to pass the test.


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Quiz:

Below is a photo/picture of each of the parts of a plane in bold from the above text. Now choose the part from the question's selection box which you believe matches the photo/picture. Only use each part once. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question which you can press/click on. In the first icon, , you can find extra information about the part (e.g. what it is, what it is used etc...) and a Spanish translation. In the second, , is where you can listen to the pronunciation of the name and do a pronunciation test (to make sure you can say it correctly).


1. parts of a plane exercise photo

This part of a plane is called a              

Fin:
(noun) Also called a 'vertical stabilizer' or a 'tail fin'. This is the fixed vertical wing (it doesn't move) at the tail of the aircraft. Like the 'tailplanes', it is used to stabilise the aircraft in flight. In addition to this, it contains the 'rudder' which is used when changing the horizontal direction of the plane (i.e. left or right).

In Spanish: "aleta de cola".

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Fin:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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2. parts of a plane exercise photo

These parts on the wings are called              

Flaps:
(noun) These are moveable panels fixed/attached to the back part of the wings next to the fuselage by a hinge. They are used to give lift to the plane at takeoff and to slow the plane down during landing. They have two positions: inline with the rest of the wing or in a downwards facing position.

During takeoff, the downwards position can vary depending on how quickly the pilot wants the plane to climb (lower if the pilot wants the plane takeoff and climb at a steeper angle).

Because the 'flaps' can create a lot of drag, they also slow the plane down. This is why they are also used when landing (both on final approach and on landing on the runway).

During the rest of the flight, the 'flaps' are rarely used for increasing altitude. The 'elevators' (on the tailplane at the tail of the plane) are used for doing this instead.

In many planes, the position of the 'flaps' is controlled by the pilot moving a 'lever' either forwards and backwards.

In Spanish: "flaps".

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Flaps:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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3. parts of a plane exercise photo

The yellow part in this photo is called a              

Rudder:
(noun) This is a moveable panel fixed/attached to the back side of the 'fin' at the tail of the plane. Like the 'rudder' on a boat, it is used on a plane to turn it to the left or right. By turning the 'rudder' to the right, turns the plane to the right. Likewise, when you turn it to the left, the the plane turns to the left.

The other parts of a plane which are used to turn it left or right are the 'ailerons' (which cause the plane to bank). Although moving the rudder will turn the plane, it isn't used for this purpose, because it is far quicker to do it using just the 'ailerons'. Pilots do normally use both the 'ailerons' and the 'rudder' when turning the plane, but the 'rudder' is used mainly to help make the turn smooth.

The 'rudder' is moved by the pilot pressing two pedals down with their feet.

In Spanish: "timón".

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Rudder:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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4. parts of a plane exercise photo

This is a part of a plane which are called              

Tailplanes:
(noun) Also called the 'horizontal stabilizers'. They are the fixed horizontal short wings (they don't move) at the back (tail) of a plane. Like the 'fin', they are used to stabilise the aircraft in flight.

In addition to this, they contain the 'elevators' on them. These are used to change the pitch of the aircraft (i.e. make the nose point upwards and downwards).

In Spanish: "estabilizadores horizontales".

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Tailplanes:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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5. parts of a plane exercise photo

These parts on the wings are called              

Spoilers:
(noun) Also called 'lift spoilers'. These are moveable panels fixed/attached to the top side of the wings. They are normally located in front of the flaps. They are used to both increase the descent rate of an aircraft and to slow the aircraft down once it has landed on the runway (because of the drag they produce).

The 'spoilers' of an aircraft have two positions: inline with the rest of the wing or in a upwards position. This upwards position can vary depending on how much and how quickly the pilot wants the plane to descend.

In many planes, the position of the 'spoilers' is controlled by the pilot moving a 'lever' either forwards and backwards.

In Spanish: "spoilers".

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Spoilers:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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6. parts of a plane exercise photo

This is a part of a plane which are called              

Elevators:
(noun) These are the moveable panels fixed to the back part of each of the 'tailplanes' at the tail of the aircraft. They are used to change the altitude at which the aircraft is flying at. The 'elevators' do this by changing the pitch of the aircraft (raising and dropping the nose of the aircraft). By raising the 'nose', the plane goes upwards. By dropping the 'nose', the plane goes downwards.

When the 'elevators' are pointing in a downwards position, this raises the 'nose' of the plane. When they are pointing in an upwards position, this drops the 'nose' of the plane

The 'elevators' are controlled by the pilot moving the 'yoke' (the aircraft's steering wheel) forwards and backwards.

In Spanish: "elevadores / timón de profundidad".

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Elevators:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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7. parts of a plane exercise photo

This is a part of a plane which are called              

Ailerons:
(noun) They are moveable panels fixed/attached to the back side of the wings next to the tips of the wings. They are basically used along with the 'rudder' to turn the plane to the left or the right (the 'ailerons' to turn the plane and the 'rudder' to make the turn smooth).

When the 'ailerons' are used, they make the plane bank (one wing points upwards while the other points down). This is done by one of the 'ailerons' moving into an upwards position (on the wing that points up) and other one moving into a downwards position (on the wing that points down). The 'ailerons' are connected, so when goes up, the other goes down. The plane then moves in the direction of the wing which is pointing down.

The 'ailerons' are moved by the pilot moving the 'yoke' (the aircraft's steering wheel) to the left or the right.

In Spanish: "alerónes".

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Ailerons:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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Practice

Now that you understand the new vocabulary, practise it by creating your own sentences with the new words/phrases.

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