An overview of Aircraft Rigging

Aircraft rigging refers to the proper installation of airframe parts such as wings, ailerons, tail surfaces, and other components designed to do a specific aerodynamic job and contribute to the overall performance, stability, and safety of an aircraft. Proper rigging is important because it ensures the aircraft’s intended standards relating to performance, stability, and safety are met. An improperly rigged aircraft will see dramatic changes in flight characteristics in addition to impairing the safe control and operation as it was intended by the manufacturer.

Furthermore, all aircraft data is based on the aircraft being rigged properly. This includes rate of climb, stall, and slow speed performance, all of which are affected by rigging. The ability of a pilot to predict how the aircraft will act is based entirely on its rigging and assembly criteria. Therefore, rigging is critical. The rigging procedure is most commonly done in the following order: installation of fixed trail surfaces, installation of movable tail surfaces and trim tabs, installation of wing panels, and installation of movable surfaces attached to wing panels. Let’s take a look at each.

Installation of fixed tail surfaces

When these surfaces are fully cantilevered, very little rigging can be done. It is important to confirm that they are secure and level in relation to the fuselage. When horizontal and vertical surfaces are strut or wire braced, more rigging adjustments can be made. Any wire braced surfaces, after installing the wires, should be adjusted to proper tension as recommended by the manufacturer. Once this has been done, the fin can be moved right or left to its ideal position by lengthening or shortening the top wires. This will ensure the wire tension remains within proper tolerances and allows the fin to be placed in a vertical or plumb position.

Installation of movable tail surfaces and trim tabs

It is best to install the elevators first, as this will prevent you from having to work around the rudder that extends into the work area. Next, the elevator stops should be rigged. If the stops are on the stick or torque tube, the proper tension can be measured with a protractor. After elevator stops, the elevator tabs are rigged. During this, remember that the travel tolerance of the tabs is generally only 1-1.5 degrees. Too much travel can cause the aircraft to be over stressed into an attitude for which it has not been designed. Finally, install the rudder. After securing the rudder and its control cables, check for full travel as specified by the manufacturer.

Installation of wing panels

If your aircraft has cantilevered wings, there is very little rigging that can be done after installation. However, if the wings are wire or strut-braced, rigging is more easily done. After the wings are installed, you must set the dihedral. This is the angle at the point where your wings and fuselage meet. To set or check the dihedral, use a dihedral board to ensure the wings are properly in place.

Installation of movable surfaces attached to wing panels

Installation of ailerons is similar to other control installations, except that ailerons normally have differential movement in order to equalize resistance in both directions of travel and between port and starboard surfaces. If differential movement occurs, the aileron will travel further up than down because it is more efficient in the down position. After the ailerons are installed, the final step is to rig the aileron stops. Again, check the cable length, tension, and travel.

Proper rigging is perhaps the most important aspect of ensuring your aircraft performs safely and as intended. For aircraft rigging equipment and much more, look no further than Aviation Gamut. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all types of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, defense, electronics, industrial, and IT hardware markets. Our account managers are always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at 1-714-705-4780. Let us show you why we consider ourselves the future of purchasing.


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