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Aircraft

The Airbus A300-600 Super Transporter is known as the Airbus Beluga because the shape of its fuselage resembles the whale. It is...Read More >>The Airbus A300-600 Super Transporter is known as the Airbus Beluga because the shape of its fuselage resembles the whale. It is an outsize cargo freight aircraft. All flying machines are types of aircraft. Balloons and airships stay airborne because they are filled with lighter-than-air gas. Aeroplanes and helicopters are heavier-than-air machines. They need wings or rotors to support them in the air by creating an upward force called lift. Engines provide a forward force called thrust.


Aeroplanes

A cutaway illustration of an airlinerAeroplanes vary in size from small single-seaters to huge machines able to transport hundreds of passengers or heavy cargo. They all have a long tube called a fuselage with a set of wings attached. Control surfaces on the wings and tail can be moved to change the plane’s direction. A tailfin and tailplane at the rear of the craft keep it flying level.

F-15 jet fighter

Military jets

A military jet fighter is designed for high speed and manoeuvrability in the air. It may be used to combat other jet fighters or to intercept enemy bombers and attack them with guns or missiles. It can also be used to attack targets on the ground. It can fly at supersonic speeds: faster than the speed of sound. On some jet fighters the angle of their wings can be altered (“swept back”) in mid-flight so the plane can go even faster.
Inside a jet fighterPilot cockpit of Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 jet fighterThe fighter’s nose contains both the cockpit, where the pilot or pilots sit, and the plane’s electronics. These include radar, used to detect enemy targets, as well as devices designed to shield the plane from enemy radar. In a Russian MiG-31, a typical jet fighter, the pilot flies the aircraft using a centre stick and left hand thrust levers. The cockpit is fitted with ejector seats, allowing the crew to eject at any altitude or speed.

UAVs

Computers are so widely used by modern aircraft that, for most of a flight, all a pilot has to do is keep an eye on the monitor screens to check that all systems are working properly.

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