Spoilers are devices installed along the wing of a plane to redirect the air that is rushing over the wings. They reduce lift and increase drag, helping the aircraft to ascend and descend.
This makes them useful for landing, especially during bad weather conditions. There are also several other reasons for a plane’s spoiler that makes them a crucial part of any aircraft.
Like any part of a plane, the spoiler serves a vital purpose. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to soar through the skies like we do.
If you’re interested in learning more about a plane’s spoiler and how it works, then you’re in luck – in this article, we’ll take you through everything there is to know about airplane spoilers! So let’s jump right into it, shall we?
What Is An Airplane Spoiler?
When you hear the term ‘spoiler’ used when talking about a vehicle, the first thing you think about is probably the spoiler on a car. These are the wing-like features at the back of a car’s roof, just above the rear windshield.
While many people add a large, fancy spoiler to their car for cosmetic reasons, its actual purpose is to redirect the flow of air as it passes the car to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency.
The spoiler of a plane has a similar function. These hinged plates on an airplane’s wing help to redirect the airflow as it rushes past the wings.
This helps to reduce drag on the plane to make it more aerodynamic, and controls the amount of lift being applied to the wings. However, they also serve several other important functions.
One of the main reasons a plane has spoilers on its wings is actually the opposite of a car spoiler. By lifting the spoiler on a plane wing, it increases the amount of drag that the plane faces. This can slow the plane down in the air, which is typically done before it starts to descend.
Deploying the spoilers on both wings dramatically reduces the amount of lift it experiences; this means that the plane is experiencing less upward force, leading to it starting to descend.
Maintaining proper control of the spoilers means that the pilot can make a smooth, controlled descent.
On smaller airplanes, the spoilers can also be used to aid in tight maneuvers and aerial maneuvers.
Applying the spoilers on just one wing will cause the plane to tilt, which makes it far easier to take tight turns in the air. It is also used by show pilots to perform rolls and spins at air shows.
Spoilers also serve other purposes on a plane. They can be used for turbulence damping, which means that they reduce the effects of turbulence and help to keep the plane stable in treacherous flying conditions.
How Do Spoilers Work?
So now that we’ve covered a bit about what airplane spoilers are and some of the things that they are used for, how exactly do they work?
If you’ve ever sat at a window seat in a plane with a view of the wings, you might have seen flaps on the back of the wings moving up and down.
These are the spoilers – each wing has several spoilers that form a single, large hinged flap, and the spoilers on each wing can be moved independently of each other.
As the plane moves forward, the spoilers move outwards and downwards. The movement of these spoilers causes the air flowing over the top of the wing to change direction. Instead of going straight ahead, the air is redirected towards the ground.
This reduces the amount of lift generated by the wing, making the plane less likely to rise off the ground.
In addition, the air is forced to travel around the wing instead of directly underneath it. This increases the pressure of the air against the underside of the wing, increasing the drag.
This effect can be seen clearly if you look closely at the leading edge of the wing. You’ll notice that the area where the spoiler meets the rest of the wing is slightly curved upwards.
This curve causes the air to follow along the outside of the wing rather than under it. This results in higher pressure being applied to the side of the wing, which makes the wing stall faster.
In order to counteract this effect, the spoilers retract inwardly during takeoff and in the air, and are typically only used while in the air and during landing (although they can be used during takeoff to help keep the plane stable on the runway).
When the plane is starting to descend, the spoilers are deployed to reduce the lift and increase the drag, which causes the plane to start tilting forward.
As the plane is landing, they are deployed again; this serves two purposes – to keep the plane stable as it lands, and to act as additional brakes to stop the plane on the runway.
Types Of Plane Spoilers
Airplane spoilers typically come under one of two categories, each with its own function.
Ground spoilers are the ones that are used to keep the plane steady and stable on the runway, and to act as a brake when the plane has landed. Flight spoilers (otherwise known as speedbrakes) are used to slow the plane down in midair and during descent.
Most planes will have both of these varieties of spoilers, which give the pilot additional control of their plane while they are on the ground and in the air.
There is another type of spoiler: the roll spoiler. As mentioned earlier, spoilers can help stunt pilots to roll in the air, perform tricks, and to make tight turns in the sky; this is the kind of spoiler that these pilots use.
They aren’t just used for show planes, however, and many commercial planes will have all three kinds of spoilers on their wings to help give the pilot more control.
The spoilers on a plane are vital features that serve all sorts of functions, from stabilizing the plane on the runway to aiding in descent, and even for breaking off sheets of ice that have formed on the wings in freezing altitudes.
Like any other part of the plane, spoilers serve an important purpose that the plane couldn’t fly without. So next time you’re on a plane and look out the window, keep an eye out for the spoilers – now you know what they’re for!