What Are Airfoils and How Do They Work?

When discussing aircraft and their ability of flight, you may see the term airfoil being used just as much as wings when describing the lift generating surfaces that make powered flight possible. While the two terms are not quite interchangeable, they are very much connected. In general, an airfoil is simply a specific shape that allows for lift generation, thus being the standard shape that wings are constructed in. Alongside this, fans, propellers, stabilizers, and other various surfaces may also utilize the airfoil shape, proving its usefulness for the manipulation of airflow and aerodynamics. To help you better understand how flight is made possible, we will provide a brief overview of airfoils and their various characteristics.

The airfoil shape is actually a natural one that can be found in plants, animals that fly, and even many of those that swim in water. Simply put, an airfoil is the cross-sectional shape of an object that is shaped in such a way that as it passes through a fluid such as gas, it will generate significant lift. Airfoils allow for wings to pass both above and below them at the same time, and the shape causes the air to move faster above the shape than below. As air speeds up over the surface, it will cause a decrease in air pressure in accordance with Bernoulli’s principle. Meanwhile, the air below remains at the same speed, thus exhibiting no change in air pressure.

When there is a pressure difference in an atmospheric space, air with high pressure will tend to be drawn toward air with a lower pressure. As airfoils cause this change in air pressure, a force will be exerted from below the airfoil, forcing it upwards as it produces lift. The faster the air is moving, or the faster the aircraft is moving, the greater the lift generation is as a more significant pressure difference is attained. To allow for a heavier-than-air aircraft to lift off the ground and remain airborne, it must have enough force and lift to overcome gravity and weight.

While aircraft airfoil structures like wings are used for lift, not every airfoil is used in the same way. In some instances, an airfoil may even be used to create a downward force. For example, car spoilers are used to create downward force so that the car can have increased traction while traveling at high speeds so that they can remain on the ground better. In a similar fashion, spoilers on aircraft are used to change the overall airfoil shape of the aircraft, allowing adjustments to be made to lift generation for varying needs. In cases where airfoil shapes are not used for lift or downward force, they may be used for reducing drag, attaining higher speeds, slowing down the vehicle, or reacting to different types of currents. With this basic understanding of airfoils, you can better see how they are crucial for standard flight, and why their use is so important. If you are an aircraft owner or operator that is seeking aircraft airfoil parts or other various aviation components, there is no better database for all your sourcing needs than ASAP Aviation Supplies.

Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we present customers access to over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items that have been sourced from thousands of leading manufacturers that we trust. Furthermore, our unwavering dedication to quality control and export compliance has allowed us to proudly operate with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accreditation. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our offerings or services, you may give us a call or email at your earliest convenience, and we would be more than happy to assist you however we can as your strategic purchasing partner. 


Recent Twitter Posts

Semiconductor's Certifications and Memberships
The only independent
distributor with a
  • All Orders are Fulfilled in the U.S.A.
  • All shipments must comply with U.S.A export laws.
  • No exceptions.
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

“We Proudly Support Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund that serves United States Military Personal experiencing the Invisible Wounds of War : Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). Please visit website (www.fallenheroesfund.org) and help in their valiant effort”.

Thank You for Visiting ASAP Aviation Supplies today.

Remember Us the Next Time If You are Looking for Aircraft Parts.

Request for Quote

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the amazing experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.