What is the Fuselage?
The fuselage carries all of the necessary cargo in an airplane,
for example, the flight crew, cargo, and or passengers. Depending
on how you look at things, the fuselage is either the most
important or the least important part on an airplane. But one
thing is for certain, it does more hindering than helping in the
Commercial airlines view the fuselage as the accommodations for
passengers, whereas freight companies see it as more of a
storage container for their cargo. Very simply, the fuselage is
there to put stuff in. Besides this role that the fuselage
plays, it also does provide the plane with some lift. In most
cases this lift is rather insignificant, but at high velocities
and less weight, this lift force becomes much more important.
When an airplane is soaring through the air, most of the form
drag comes from the fuselage. Its cross sectional area is by far
the largest of any of the components on the plane. The fuselage
also creates friction drag, due to its proportionately long body.
Basically, the fuselage is a big drag producer. The more drag
there is on an airplane, the less efficiently it flies.
Decreasing the drag due to the fuselage would drastically improve
the aircraft performance and fuel efficiency, among other
A fuselage should be large and strong enough to carry all of the
intended mass be it cargo, people or a mixture of those two.
However, the fuselage should also be as light as possible to
minimize the amount of weight that the wings have to produce lift
for. This demand of two opposing criteria also presents another
problem. Keep in mind, most of the weight force comes from the
fuselage, but its counteracting force--lift primarily comes from
the wings. This creates immense structural stress where the wings
meet the fuselage. Decreasing this stress would mean decreasing
the overall structural weight.
The Ideal Design
To cover the major aerodynamic problems, the drag due to the
fuselage should be minimized, and the fuselage itself should be
as light as possible, yet strong enough to support the mass
inside. The drag could be kept to a minimum simply by keeping
the surface as smooth as possible. The structural weight however
could be lightened by a concept known as even load distribution.
Even Load Distribution
In this concept, engineers hope to build planes so incredibly
large that their proportionately correct wings would be large
enough to carry the normal cargo of today. In this way, the
source of the weight is distributed more evenly with the source
of the lift. This in turn cuts down on the stress at the wing
roots meaning the structural weight will also decrease. However,
in order for something like this to work empty planes would
weigh around 3 million pounds! It would be some time before these
behemoths become the standard for commercial airlines.