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What does a pilot need to know about the airplane?

In a nutshell, a pilot should have a good idea what makes his airplane get up in the air and keep flying - basically, the airplane systems and aerodynamics.

These two basic knowledge areas split into a number of specialist sections. See the end of this page for a list of links that will go into specific details for each of these sections.

An aircraft consists of a number of systems, namely the aircraft structural system including control surfaces and undercarriage, avionics and instruments, the aircraft powerplant including the engine, propeller, ignition and the fuel system, and the aircraft electrical systems and vacuum systems. The flight principles area covers the fundamentals of areodynamics, i.e. basic physics of objects moving through air, airplane aerodynamic, i.e. the way airplanes in particular move through air, as well as a number of effects that are encountered when flying, such as ground effect, aerodynamics of a turn etc.

The knowledge areas covered on this page correspond with the area that is subject of the FAA Principles of Flight Question bank. If you want to check the knowledge you already possess in this area click on the link a few lines further down.

Clicking on the link will open a new window, so that you can return to this page for further study. Hopefully you will be able to improve your score after studying these pages. Please note, that the question answer page opening when you click on the link is timed and you might find it easier to try to do this first test in one go, come back to improve your knowledge and then try the test again. There are also a number of smaller tests at the end of each section that you can take and that will help you to retain the knowledge.

All about the airplane: Go on and try the FAA Principles of Flight test now.

If you did the test, you might have identified some areas where you would like to improve your knowledge. Check the following list of topics to dig into the areas in detail:

There might be some questions that are not covered on this page. In that case we have moved them to other pages in order to better fit into the hirarchy as we have proposed on the top page. Please refer to the menu of links to the left for other areas. There you should find the answers to these questions.


Aircraft Structure: This webpage provides a brief introduction to the airplane and its major components.

Aircraft Powerplant: The aircraft powerplant propels the aircraft and drives the various systems that support the operation of an airplane. This page gives an overview of the main systems needed to move the aircraft.

Auxiliary Aircraft Systems are systems in the aircraft that either support other essential systems or that play another supportive role in the functioning of the aircraft.

Flight Instruments enable an airplane to be operated with maximum performance and enhanced safety, especially when flying long distances. To use them effectively, pilots need to understand how they operate. This page covers the operational aspects of the pitot-static system and associated instruments, the vacuum system and associated instruments, and the magnetic compass.

Airplane Aerodynamics: This page gives an introduction into the fundamentals of airplane aerodynamics and flight principles.

Flight Controls: Here you find everything you need to know about how to control an aircraft with ailerons, rudder and elevators and secondary flight controls, such as trim and flaps.

Aerodynamics in Flight: Here the basic aerodynamics are applied to flying aircraft.

Aeronautics: How aircraft design characteristics influence stability and handling of the aircraft.






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