Since ailerons, elevators and rudder are all designed in a similar way, that is, they are attached to a fixed structure from where they move in both direction on that particular axis.

For example on a typical aircraft:

  • Elevator: On the horizontal stabilizer, moves Up and Down.
  • Aileron: On the wing, moves Up and Down oppositely
  • Rudder: On the vertical stabilizer, moves Left and Right

Is there a name in common we can call all of them?

Like in aircraft design/structure can we say that they are all X kind of thing?

Aircraft structures


2 Answers 2


Primary control surfaces is the typical name for ailerons, elevators, rudders, etc. Auxiliary flight controls include things like flaps, slats, slots, spoilers, leading edge devices, etc. Secondary flight controls are the same as AUX flight controls, just a different name.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ "ailerons, elevator, rudder, etc." - what else is there? $\endgroup$
    – Bergi
    Commented Jan 22 at 20:03
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ It makes me think of elevons, wing warping, and stabilators. You could also count hybrids such as flaperons. $\endgroup$
    – Aaganrmu
    Commented Jan 22 at 20:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Bergi canards? $\endgroup$
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jan 23 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ Just to make sure, trimmable horizontal stabilizer would be a secondary control surface? It's not really primary, but at the same time, for pitch control, it's usually the only thing the AP would use, so for AP it's really primary... $\endgroup$
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 23 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @bergi The B-2 has control surfaces called elevons, so that would be another example. It also has a GLAS (Gust Load Alleviation System) which probably counts as a primary control surface $\endgroup$
    – Shaz
    Commented Jan 23 at 14:13

All of the aileron, rudder, and elevator surfaces may be considered "aerodynamic control surfaces." This would also cover the primary, secondary, and auxiliary control surfaces, as noted by Wyatt.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Or even just "control surfaces". $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23 at 21:56

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