AskDefine | Define fuselage

Dictionary Definition

fuselage n : the central body of an airplane that is designed to accommodate the crew and passengers (or cargo)

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈfjusəlɑʒ/


  1. (aeronautical) The main body of a winged aerospace vehicle


main body of aerospace vehicle





  • IPA: /fyz.laʒ/


fuselage (plural fuselages)
  1. Fuselage

Extensive Definition

The fuselage (from the French fuselé "spindle-shaped") is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull. The fuselage also serves to position control and stabilization surfaces in specific relationships to lifting surfaces, required for aircraft stability and maneuverability.

Types of structures

Box truss structure

The structural elements resemble those of a bridge, with emphasis on using linked triangular elements. The aerodyamic shape is completed by additional elements called formers and stringers and is then covered with fabric and painted. Most early aircraft used this technique with wood and wire trusses and this type of structure is still in use in many lightweight aircraft using welded steel tube trusses. This method is especially suitable for amateur-built aircraft kits, where a complete welded truss structure is delivered with the fitting of other components, covering, and finishing completed by the user, as it ensures that a robust, uniform load bearing structure is within the completed aircraft.

Geodetic construction

Geodetic structural elements were used by Barnes Wallis for British Vickers between the wars and into World War II to form the whole of the fuselage, including its aerodynamic shape. In this type of construction multiple flat strip stringers are wound about the formers in opposite spiral directions, forming a basket-like appearance. This proved to be light, strong, and rigid and had the advantage of being made almost entirely of wood. The structure is also redundant and so can survive localized damage without catastrophic failure. A fabric covering over the structure completed the aerodynamic shell (see the Vickers Wellington for an example of a large warplane which uses this process). The logical evolution of this is the creation of fuselages using molded plywood, in which multiple sheets are laid with the grain in differing directions to give the monocoque type below.

Monocoque shell

In this method, the exterior surface of the fuselage is also the primary structure. A typical early form of this (see the Lockheed Vega) was built using molded plywood, where the layers of plywood are formed over a "plug" or within a mold. A later form of this structure uses fiberglass cloth impregnated with polyester or epoxy resin, instead of plywood, as the skin. A simple form of this used in some amateur-built aircraft uses rigid expanded foam plastic as the core, with a fiberglass covering, eliminating the necessity of fabricating molds, but requiring more effort in finishing (see the Rutan VariEze). An example of a larger molded plywood aircraft is the de Havilland Mosquito fighter/light bomber of World War II. It should be noted that no plywood-skin fuselage is truly monocoque, since stiffening elements are incorporated into the structure to carry concentrated loads that would otherwise buckle the thin skin. The use of molded fiberglass using negative ("female") molds (which give a nearly finished product) is prevalent in the series production of many modern sailplanes. The use of molded composites for fuselage structures is being extended to large passenger aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner (using pressure-molding on female molds).


fuselage in Catalan: Fusellatge
fuselage in Czech: Trup letadla
fuselage in German: Flugzeugrumpf
fuselage in Spanish: Fuselaje
fuselage in French: Fuselage
fuselage in Croatian: Trup zrakoplova
fuselage in Italian: Fusoliera
fuselage in Lithuanian: Fiuzeliažas
fuselage in Malay (macrolanguage): Fiuslaj
fuselage in Portuguese: Fuselagem
fuselage in Russian: Фюзеляж
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