If you have ever flown in an aircraft with a window seat capable of viewing one of its wings, then you have definitely seen an aircraft’s flap track fairings in work. At first glance, if you are not familiar with their function, you might assume flap track fairings serve to hold air fuel or act as an accessory for the aileron or wing. In this blog, to better understand how these parts work, we will be covering the function and importance of flap track fairings.
While they help to enhance the appearance of an aircraft’s wing, flap track fairings house the inboard and outboard flaps on fixed-wing aircraft. Aircraft flaps play an integral role in the operational function of its wings. They consist of a hinged panel or panels installed on the edge of each wing. When these flaps are extended, they increase camber, which directly results in an increase of both lift and drag, as well as a reduction in stall speed. More than that, they serve as a secondary structure that not only provides an aerodynamic cover, but a deposit for storage. These canoe-like flaps contain the jackscrew, gearbox, carriages, and other mounting bracketry. Most aircraft store these components within these structures, with the exception of McDonnell Douglas aircraft, which have specialized vertical fairings that protect the hydraulic actuators.
Flap track fairings are affixed with flashy tips which serve to prevent accidents during on-ground handling operations, such as those executed by belt loaders, aircraft marshals, and cargo transporters. These tips can be painted on or applied with an adhesive, and can be made reflective for optimal use during overnight flights. Like most other parts of an aircraft, flap track fairings are made from composite materials that supply high strength, low weight, and corrosion resistant properties. More than that, they are made to encase and protect various aircraft components. This includes the gearbox, a device which controls the speed of the aircraft, as well as the jackscrew which serves to raise and lower the horizontal stabilizers of an aircraft.
While aircraft of the past have not had as many of the same luxuries provided to them in comparison to modern flap track fairings, they are garnering popularity for a number of reasons while regularly being implemented for the design of aircraft wings. One of these reasons includes the fact that a flap track fairing’s structure assists with the flow of an aircraft's fuselage in multiple directions while simultaneously mitigating various forms of drag like wave drag, interference drag, and engine cooling drag. The functional characteristics of flap track fairings play a major role in the design, certification, and operational aspects of most aircraft. Additionally, their implementation reduces the unevenness of aircraft body surfaces, providing a sleek cover for gaps that form between the joints of part structures. The compact and concealed nature of flap track fairings increases the speed and efficiency of the aircraft.
Preceding such information, the rising demand for specialized flap track fairings and aerodynamic structures alike have driven their market size up. With the introduction of a new generation of aircraft carriers, a surplus of aircraft manufacturers are producing lightweight components like flap track fairings to reduce aircraft weight and increase fuel efficiency. The complexity of flap track fairings differ based on the specific type of aircraft, model, fairing application areas, and the number of fairings used. For instance, general aviation airliners have fewer complex fairings, whereas commercial aircraft usually have more complex fairings that fulfill particular application requirements. Nonetheless, a flap trap fairing assembly is constructed following a prepreg lay-up and is the preferred assembly process for most aircraft fairings. This is due to their complex assembly and their need for specialized fabrication of composite parts and various equipment.
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