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Flap Track Fairings: What Are They?

If you ask most people who have flown, they would probably say they have seen these “pod-like” structures under the wings of an aircraft. Some people assume that they hold fuel. This is not correct, but in fact, they house the workings of the inboard and outboard flaps. The jackscrew, carriages, gearboxes, and associated mounting bracketry are very un-aerodynamic within these structures. Therefore, the Flap Track Fairings, canoe-like fairings, cover them.

Flap Track Fairings
Photo: ADL

Boeing and Airbus aircraft use similar flap fairings, while McDonnell Douglas aircraft in particular have unique vertical fairings that house the hydraulic actuators.

Flap Track Fairings
Inside the vertical flap fairing on a DC-10
Photo: Abbott Aerospace
Flap Track Fairings
Inside the “canoe” – shaped flap fairing on the Boeing 737
Photo: Abbott Aerospace

Some flap track fairings have flashy tips, which are for preventing accidents during ground handling operations, e.g. by belt loaders. They can be painted or applied with adhesive tape (possibly reflective, useful at night).

Flap Track Fairings
Some aircraft (most notably the A320) have painted flap track fairings to increase visibility and avoid accidents on the ground.
Photo: Aviation Stack Exchange

Not all aircraft have these structures under their wings, as the design of the flap mechanism varies according to the manufacturer. But on most Boeing, Airbus, and McDonnell Douglas aircraft that do have these structures, the principle is the same—to provide an aerodynamic cover which in turn reduces drag.


Sources:

Cover Photo

Abbott Aerospace

Airliners

Aviation Stack Exchange

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