Aircraft Flaps and Their Primary Types

Mounted to the trailing edges of aerofoils on fixed-wing aircraft, flaps are a high-lift device designed to reduce a wing’s stall speed. With stall speeds being a persistent consideration among aircraft which are directly affected by its weight, flaps must be built to accommodate the size of an aircraft when employed during flight. Essentially used to effect drag and lift, especially during takeoff or landing procedures on shorter runways, flaps can be retracted for convenience when not necessary. To fully understand how one’s aircraft works, it is imperative to know all control surfaces and how they can easily impact an aircraft's orientation in the sky. Within this blog, we will get familiarized with aircraft flap types, how each works to accommodate aircraft specifications, and the drawbacks of each.

Attached to tracks along metal hinges, flaps are capable of horizontal movement, but can include additional assemblies to produce a greater amount of lift or drag based on aircraft model. By using flaps, each fixed-wing plane is able to take advantage of: inflicting reduced takeoff and landing speeds, allowing greater control over steep landing angles without increasing speed, and reduced takeoff and landing rolls. Though there are many available flaps on the market, there are only four which are primarily installed onto modern fixed-wing aircraft. Consisting of plain flaps, split flaps, slotted flaps, and fowler flaps, each of these apparatuses can be accompanied by auxiliary flaps for applied support.

Plain Flaps

The simplest of plane flaps, plain flaps provide necessary lift for general aviation aircraft, aircraft used for training, sports aircraft, and other smaller models. Commonly referred to as “barn door flaps,” these parts function similarly to their name and swing doward on a hinge when in use. Simple in design, these flap types can only be applied to smaller, more lightweight aircraft. 

Split Flaps

Split flaps, though more complex in operation than plain flaps, do not produce significant increase in generated lift. Split flaps typically extend  from the lower half of an aircraft's wings because they have continuously proven themselves to be counterproductive in comparison to achieving reliable lift. Prevalent in many vintage aircraft dating from the 1930s and prior, aircraft like the Douglas DC-1 utilized such components before the rapid advancement of high lift devices.

Slotted Flaps

Based on modern aircraft design, slotted flaps are the predominant flap type seen amongst most aircraft today. Whether a jet or propeller-powered plane, as wing camber is increased when more slots are added, slotted flaps are efficient at supplying the forces necessary for an aircraft to become airborne. Alleviating the need for parts that fold, the presence of slots allows high pressure present beneath the wings to rush upwards. Flowing through the slots and out above the wing, airflow separation is then delayed.

Fowler Flaps

While older aircraft are typically limited on how much lift they can create, Fowler flaps were created to supply large jets and other similar aircraft with tremendous lift and drag. Brought into fruition around the same time as split flaps, Fowler flaps were also engineered to create a specialized type known as a slotted Fowler flap.

Directly impacting an aircraft's potential to become airborne, flaps are practical for their control over power, pitch, and attitude. Whether you are in need of vintage aircraft parts or items mandatory for heavy-duty flight, feel secure knowing that you can find what you need at Purchasing 3sixty. We have all the panels and accessories you require to fit any one of your unique applications! As a dependable distributor of gouge flaps, junker flaps, zap flaps, krueger flaps, gurney flaps, and more, we invite you to browse our inventory for numerous aviation supplies and any applicable apparatuses. Due to our quality control and export compliance, we operate with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. If you would like to request a quote for your comparisons, you can submit an RFQ form as provided on our website. Upon receipt, a dedicated account manager will quickly review and respond with a personalized solution to your needs in just 15 minutes or less, 24/7x365.


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