Aircraft Elevators

The elevator is an example of a primary flight control system. It controls movement about the lateral axis of an aircraft: a movement referred to as pitch. They are also used to control the angle of attack and aid in creating lift. In most aircraft, there are two elevators, one mounted on the trailing edge of each half of the horizontal stabilizer. When a control input is made, either manually or by autopilot, the elevators move up or down as needed. In most installations, the elevator moves symmetrically. However, in certain aircraft controlled by fly-by-wire technology, the elevators move differently from each other in order to meet the control input demands.

Certain aircraft also have provisions to disconnect the right and left elevators from one another should a control surface jam. Other types of aircraft use hydraulic systems to power the left and right elevators and to ensure that at least one of the surfaces is operational if the system as a whole fails. The function of an elevator is relatively simple. It operates by responding to a forward or aft (rearward) movement of the control column or control stick. When the pilot moves the controls forward, the elevator surface transitions to a downward position, thereby increasing the camber of the horizontal stabilizer and creating an increase in lift. Camber is defined as the degree of curvature of an aerofoil from the leading edge to the trailing edge. The additional lift at the tail surface results in rotation around the lateral axis of the aircraft and causes a nose down change in the aircraft’s attitude. With an aft movement of the flight deck controls, the opposite occurs.

Many low-speed aircraft feature a trim tab at the rear of the elevator. The pilot can adjust this tab to eliminate forces on the control column at the desired attitude and airspeed. Delta winged aircraft combine ailerons and elevators, as well as their respective control inputs, into a single control surface known as an elevon. Supersonic aircraft frequently feature all-moving tailplanes, also known as stabilitors, as the shockwaves generated on the horizontal stabilizer significantly reduce the effectiveness of hinged elevators in supersonic flight. A stabilator could be considered a combination of a stabilizer and elevator, as it serves all of the usual functions of longitudinal stability, control, and stick force requirements otherwise performed separately by a conventional horizontal stabilizer and elevator.

Elevators are commonly part of the tail, found at the rear of an aircraft. In some aircraft, pitch-control surfaces are at the front, ahead of the wing. In a two-surface aircraft, this configuration is known as a canard or tandem wing. Early aircraft, such as those made by the Wright Brothers, were of the canard type. The Flying Flea and Rutan Quickie are two notable aircraft that utilize the tandem type configuration. Early three-surface aircraft had front elevators, and modern three-surface aircraft frequently have both a front canard and rear elevators.

In an attempt to create faster, more powerful, and more efficient aircraft, many engineers are looking for ways to combine the elevator and other pieces into one cohesive unit, such as the wing. Achieving this would decrease the aircraft’s weight and cost, allow it to fly with less drag, and reduce the complexity of the structure. For elevator parts and much more, look no further than Accelerating RFQs. We are owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, a trusted supplier of aircraft parts, aircraft engine parts, aircraft bearings, and more. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, call us at 1-780-851-3631 or email us at


March 25, 2021
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