What Are The Types of Fixed Wing Aircraft?

Posted on May 16, 2019 Jerold Perkins Aviation

There are many different wing designs, shapes, and sizes, with each variation fulfilling a certain need in respect to the performance of the aircraft. The wings are attached to either side of an aircraft fuselage and are the main lifting surfaces that support the plane in flight. Wings can be attached at the lower, middle, and top portion of the fuselage. Some wings are angled back, some curve up, while others have fixed wings.

A fixed wing aircraft is one that is capable of flight using forward motion that generates lift as the wing moves through the air. Most fixed wing aircraft require a pilot on board to maneuver it to its destination; however, advancements in drone technology have produced an unmanned, remote controlled capacity. Fixed wing aircraft can be categorized into three different types: monoplane, biplane, and triplane.

A monoplane is a fixed wing aircraft designed with one main set of wings. Their design has been nearly universally adopted as they have the highest efficiency and lowest drag of any wing configuration and are simple to construct. It proved its worth during World War II, and since then has completely supplanted the biplane design. Most commercial aircraft that air passengers travel on are monoplanes.

A biplane is similar to a monoplane except that it has a second set of wings, stacked on top of each other. This style permits lighter wing structures, low wing loading, greater maneuverability, and a smaller wingspan area ratio. This style of aircraft was popular during World War I, which is why the military was one of the last manufacturers to abandon the design. The disadvantage of biplanes is the amount of drag produced by the two sets of wings; they suffer greatly from aerodynamic interference.

Triplanes have an additional third set of wings stacked on top of each other. They have reduced wingspan area in comparison with a biplane— resulting in a smaller, more lightweight structure. Triplanes offer better maneuverability and a higher load capacity and were popular during the first World War. Triplanes quickly lost their popularity after the war as biplanes proved to be more functional/practical.

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