Figure 2.13: Aircraft’s empennage types. © Guy Inchbald / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0.
The empennage, also referred to as tail or tail assembly, gives stability to the aircraft. Most aircraft feature empennage incorporating vertical and horizontal stabilizing surfaces which stabilize the flight dynamics of pitch and yaw as well as housing control surfaces. Different configurations for the empennage can be identified (See Figure 2.13):
The conventional tail (also referred to as low tail) configuration, in which the horizontal stabilizers are placed in the fuselage. It is the conventional configuration for aircraft with the engines under the wings. It is structurally more compact and aerodynamically more efficient.
The cruciform tail, in which the horizontal stabilizers are placed midway up the vertical stabilizer, giving the appearance of a cross when viewed from the front. Cruciform tails are often used to keep the horizontal stabilizers out of the engine wake, while avoiding many of the disadvantages of a T-tail.
The T-tail configuration, in which the horizontal stabilizer is mounted on top of the fin, creating a "T" shape when viewed from the front. T-tails keep the stabilizers out of the engine wake, and give better pitch control. T-tails have a good glide ratio, and are more efficient on low speed aircraft. However, T-tails are more likely to enter a deep stall, and is more difficult to recover from a spin. T-tails must be stronger, and therefore heavier than conventional tails. T-tails also have a larger cross section.
Twin tail (also referred to as H-tail) or V-tail are other configuration of interest although much less common.