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The wing root of a simple aircraft, an American Aviation AA-1 Yankee, showing a wing root fairing
An aircraft wheel fairing, commonly called a wheel pant or spat or, by some manufacturers, a speed fairing.

A fairing is a structure whose primary function is to produce a smooth outline and reduce drag.[1]

These structures are generally light-weight shapes and covers for gaps and spaces between parts of an aircraft to reduce form drag and interference drag, and to improve appearance.



On aircraft, fairings are commonly found on:

  • engine cowlings, to reduce parasitic drag by reducing the surface area, having a smooth surface and thus leading to laminar flow, and having a nose cone shape, which prevents early flow separation. The inlet and the nozzle in combination lead to an isotropic speed reduction around the cooling fins and due to the speed-squared law to a reduction in cooling drag.
  • tail cones, to reduce the form drag of the fuselage, by recovering the pressure behind it. For the design speed they add no friction drag.
  • wheels on fixed gear aircraft — often called "wheel pants", "speed fairings" or in the UK, "wheel spats". These fairings are a trade-off in advantages, as they increase the frontal and surface area, but also provide a smooth surface, a faired nose and tail for laminar flow, in an attempt to reduce the turbulence created by the round wheel and its associated gear legs and brakes.
  • wing root, to reduce interference drag. On top and below the wing it consists of small rounded edge to reduce the surface and such friction drag. At the leading and trailing edge it consists of much larger taper and smooths out the pressure differences: High pressure at the leading and trailing edge, low pressure on top of the wing and around the fuselage.
  • wing tips, which may have a complex shape to reduce vortex generation and so also drag, especially at low speed
  • fin and rudder tips, to reduce turbulence at the tip
  • elevator and horizontal stabilizer tips
  • strut-to-wing and strut-to-fuselage junctions
  • fixed landing gear junctions
British Airways Boeing 757-200 landing. The flap track fairings are the canoe-shaped fairings that protect and streamline the flap operating mechanisms.

Flap track fairings

Most jet airliners have a cruising speed between Mach 0.8 and 0.85. For aircraft operating in the transonic regime (about Mach 0.8–1.2), wave drag can be minimized by having a cross-sectional area which changes smoothly along the length of the aircraft. This is known as the area rule. On subsonic aircraft such as jet airliners, this can be achieved by the addition of smooth pods on the trailing edges of the wings. These pods are known as anti-shock bodies, Küchemann Carrots, or flap track fairings, as they enclose the mechanisms for deploying the wing flaps.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Crane, Dale: Dictionary of Aeronautical Terms, Third Edition, page 206. Aviation Supplies & Academics Inc, Newcastle Washington, 1997. ISBN 1-56027-287-2
  2. ^ "Whitcomb Area Rule & Küchemann Carrots". Retrieved 2007-12-27.  


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