AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

What is the difference between Fixed-Wing and Rotary-Wing Aircraft?

Aircraft have greatly changed how we operate across the world, allowing individuals to traverse the globe with speeds never before thought to be attainable. While early aircraft were fairly simplistic with wooden structures, propellers, and limited seating, many advancements have been made over the years, allowing for a great diversification of powered, heavier-than-air flying machines. One of the most notable diversification of aircraft was the creation of rotary-wing aircraft, those of which differ from conventional fixed-wing aircraft in terms of operation, capabilities, and general design. As fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft comprise a majority of models used in the modern world, it can be quite beneficial to have an understanding of how the two groups are set apart from one another.

While there are a number of things that set fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft apart, one of the most notable is how they create lift. With a fixed-wing aircraft, rigid airfoil structures will extend out of the sides of the fuselage and as the aircraft propels itself forward with engine-generated thrust, the wings will produce lift. With a rotary-wing aircraft, the airfoil structures come in the form of rotating blades on a mast, and the engine will drive the blades so as to create lift.

With the difference in how flight is achieved, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft are also distinguished by their various capabilities. As fixed-wing aircraft rely on forward propulsion for their lift, they are known to have a greater ability to traverse long distances with a single tank of fuel. Additionally, they are much faster, making them a better choice for commercial transportation, certain forms of aerial superiority, and more. On the other hand, rotary-wing aircraft are much slower and more limited in the distances that they may traverse, though this is balanced by their ability to hover.

A majority of rotary-wing aircraft have VTOL capabilities, meaning that they can lift off and land vertically. With the addition of hovering, rotary-wing aircraft can operate in many areas where fixed-wing aircraft cannot. One example is within dense cities, as rotary-wing aircraft will have much more control over speed and direction in order to avoid collision, they are able to operate as air ambulances, surveillance aircraft, and search and rescue vehicles.

By understanding these major differences in structure and capability, you can see that the choice between each will generally come down to what you need out of your aircraft. If you intend to travel between countries often, you are better off with a fixed-wing aircraft such as a private or business jet. Meanwhile, if you plan to conduct surveys of hard-to-reach areas where operations can benefit from an “eye in the sky,” then rotary-wing aircraft like helicopters are the best option. Additionally, when it comes to difficulty of piloting, rotary-wing aircraft are generally considered harder to fly with their reduced stability and inability to glide.

If you own or operate fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft and are searching for a reliable source of parts, look no further than emergent Industrials. On our database, we offer customers access to over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find parts that have been sourced from top manufacturers across the globe. We are fully dedicated to the needs of our customers, providing competitive pricing, rapid lead times, and expedited shipping on much of our inventory. We invite you to peruse our database as you see fit, and know that every listed part can be purchased at any time. If you do find an item of interest, fill out and submit an RFQ form at your earliest convenience. Get started on the procurement process today and see how we at Emergent Industrials can serve as your strategic sourcing partner for all your projects and operations.


Semiconductor's Certifications and Memberships
The only independent
distributor with a
  • All orders are fulfilled in the USA.
  • All shipments must comply with U.S.A export laws.
  • No exceptions.
fallen heroes fund logo

“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 ( and help in their valiant effort”.

Thank You for Visiting.

We Hope that You Will Visit Us Again the Next Time You Need NSN Parts and Make Us Your Strategic Purchasing Partner.

Request for Quote

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