Aircraft have countless structures and components, with the most essential being the fuselage. The fuselage can be described as the body of an aircraft, serving as the envelope that houses the cockpit, seats the passengers, and holds the cargo. It is also the primary framework to which other fundamental parts are attached to, like the wings, tail empennage, or landing gear.
Fuselages are an important part of aircraft as they provide an aerodynamic shape and increase safety by protecting what is most valuable inside them. More than that, a fuselage serves as an assembly base for other aircraft parts, distributes the forces over its entire surface area, and provides a protective barrier in the event of an accident. Generally, the interior of an aircraft fuselage is divided based on function. For example, the cockpit, areas for the passengers, cargo, and crew, and more.
Since the aviation industry is continuously devising new aircraft designs, improved models are constantly emerging. As such, there are several types of aircraft fuselages, those of which are categorized based on force absorption, size, or manufacturing method. The three main types include monocoque, semi-monocoque, wide-body, narrow-body, and lattice/tubular fuselage types.
A monocoque fuselage consists of a tubular structure with frames encapsulated with sheet metal or fiber. However, fiber is the most popular choice as it is lightweight and flexible. This type of fuselage is equipped with a strong airframe and the ability to fly at high altitudes. In fact, the covering on the airframe is responsible for withstanding all the forces of flight. Furthermore, it is quite robust, making it the most common type of fuselage utilized in general aviation aircraft.
For many large commercial aircraft, the most commonly used fuselage type is the semi-monocoque. In this fuselage type, a braid is formed by spars, frames, and the covering itself, allowing the forces to be distributed over the entire length of the fuselage. Keep in mind that it is possible to lighten the weight of the fuselage by taking advantage of a thinner metal skin. The most used material in the construction of semi-monocoque fuselages is duraluminium, also called aircraft aluminum. This material is an alloy of aluminum with copper, manganese, magnesium, and silicon.
Wide and Narrow Fuselages
Fuselages can also be classified by their size, diameter, or internal volume. Narrow-body aircraft are single-aisle airplanes that separate passenger seats into two rows while wide-body aircraft have more than one aisle to divide the seats, with some configurations having 5 seats in a single row.
The last fuselage type is the lattice fuselage, which consists of a network of steel tubes that join the frames of the aircraft. It is the oldest form of fuselage construction, making it unsuitable for modern models. Moreover, it has frames, spars, and diagonals that are blanketed in canvas, wood, or metal. There are a few subtypes, such as the Warren fuselage, the Pratt fuselage, and the Geodesic fuselage. In the early days of aviation, lattice fuselages were a safe and economical choice.
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