An elevon is a flap that combines the functions of an elevator and an aileron. In older aircraft, elevators control pitch and the ailerons control roll. Elevons supply roll by moving the controls on either side of the aircraft the same distance in opposite directions. Meanwhile, pitch control is achieved by equally moving both elevons up and down.
Typically found in delta wing military aircraft with no horizontal stabilizers and elevators, elevons are positioned on the trailing edge of wings where they can be controlled by the pilot with a traditional joystick. Computers within the aircraft translate this action into the necessary action carried out by the elevons. This offers the same degree of control that the pilot would have if the individual flaps were at the pilot’s disposal.
In simplistic terms, pitch is controlled by moving the flaps in the same direction, enabling the nose to move up or down. To execute a turn or roll, one elevon will rise and the other will move downwards. In traditional aircraft, the elevators are flaps found on the horizontal section of the tail assembly. By raising these elevators, air moves slowly over the tail assembly, minimizing lift and allowing the plane to pitch forward.
It is important to note that elevons are particularly critical in aircraft that lack ailerons as these are the components that carry out similar actions to elevons. Conventional aircraft designs normally feature an empennage or tail section that consists of a vertical stabilizer and two smaller, wing-shaped horizontal stabilizers. Mounted on the horizontal stabilizers are a set of elevators, allowing the aircraft to descend or climb.
On the ends of the wings, you can find the ailerons which, when moved in opposite directions, roll the aircraft around its axis. Since many aircraft do not have horizontal stabilizers or elevators, elevons are incredibly useful in such instances. Nonetheless, they are new to the aviation realm, with the first operational aircraft employing them in 2008.
While the function of elevons may seem like a departure from control surface norms, they do not affect the way the pilot controls the aircraft. Inputs are still achieved using the same control column or side stick controls while elevon movements are controlled by the aircraft’s unique flight control systems. As they are found in high performance, delta wing military aircraft, their implementation in civilian aircraft is not as common.
Like other aircraft control surfaces, elevons also require routine checks and maintenance, ensuring that they are in working condition. In the case that maintenance crew members find defects or malfunctions, one must look for the source of the problem. If you find yourself in need of elevons, ailerons, or other aircraft control surfaces, finding a reputable distributor that you can count on is paramount.
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