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A former is a structural member of an aircraft fuselage, of which a typical fuselage has a series from the nose to the empennage, typically perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the aircraft. The primary purpose of formers is to establish the shape of the fuselage and reduce the column length of stringers to prevent instability. Formers are typically attached to longerons, which support the skin of the aircraft.
The Former-and-Longeron technique was adopted from boat construction (also called stations and stringers), and was typical of light aircraft built until the advent of structural skins, such as fiberglass and other composite materials. Many of today's light aircraft, and homebuilt aircraft in particular, are still designed in this way.
They are also found in the cores of potentiometers in which the resistive material is wrapped round.