Aircraft are able produce the lift necessary to remain in flight, but they require additional lift while traveling at lower speeds, particularly during takeoff and landing. Fowler flaps are one of the several types of high-lift devices designed to produce essential additional lift during takeoff and landing. They are attached to the trailing edge of the aircraft wings, and when deployed, they slide back and down which increases the surface area of the wings to produce massive lift. Essentially, fowler flaps alter the wing shape of an aircraft to provide extra lift for takeoff and landing.
Like wing extensions located at their trailing edges, fowler flaps increase the amount of surface area of the wing, which helps the aircraft generate additional lift. Fowler flaps move downward once they are deployed to increase camber, or curvature, of the wings; this, in turn, creates more lift. During landing, fowler flaps increase the lift of an aircraft so it is capable of landing at slower speeds without covering too much distance on the runway. As such, planes are able to approach the runway steeply and avoid obstacles by employing their fowler flaps. Despite the lift fowler flaps provide at lower speeds, they also produce drag, which means the aircraft has to carry additional weight. Drag is dangerous during takeoff because it slows the vehicle down; for this reason, fowler flaps are utilized during takeoff only if the aircraft fails to possess a high enough lift coefficient.
Lift in an aircraft is determined by two factors: incoming air or aircraft speed and the angle of attack. The angle of attack is the angle the chord on an airplane wing creates with incoming airflow; when the angle of attack grows, so does the lift on the wing. Fowler flaps move downward when deployed in order to raise the camber of the wing and alter its trailing edge position. This moves the chord line to increase the angle of attack which increases the surface area of the wing. Additional surface area leads to more air hitting the surface, resulting in greater lift.
Fowler flaps create a large amount of lift and are reserved for bigger aircraft, including commercial airlines and jets. Their top and bottom halves are not entirely sealed which creates a gap that permits high-pressure air underneath the wing to move through it to the top of the wing. This stabilizes the boundary layer on the upper surface of the wing which creates a low pressure region on the leading edge. Split flaps, on the other hand, have sealed surfaces and can only be moved downward, not backward. This enlarges the camber of the wing, but not its surface area; as a result, there is not as much lift as with fowler flaps, but a great deal of drag. This inefficiency is why they are not frequently featured on planes.
Slotted flaps are another type of high-lift device that are similar to fowler flaps, but they have a few differences. When deployed, slotted flaps only move downward and not backwards like fowler flaps which do not offer lift. They feature slots, or gaps, which permit highly pressurized air to travel from the bottom of the wing to the top in order to stabilize the top boundary layer and delay airflow separation. This creates more lift for an aircraft, in addition to their shape, which appears similar to an airfoil; this allows air to travel to the bottom and top surfaces, creating pressure and lift. Slotted flaps are often employed in passenger, training, and cargo aircraft.
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