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During a recent flight from Copenhagen to Milan in an Airbus A319, one of the flap track fairings were missing from the wing. I saw this during takeoff, and notified a flight attendent as soon as the "seatbelts on" sign was turned off.

Missing flap track fairing on Airbus A319

She seemed slightly surprised and went to the cockpit (supposedly to tell the pilot). After some minutes she returned and told me that it was fine, the captain had seen it during inspection and it was noted in the log

Is it normal procedure to take off with knowledge of missing flap track fairings? What are the consequences of one missing?

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    $\begingroup$ Think of it like the plastic air deflector under the front bumper of your car -- the primary effect of losing it is a ding on gas mileage. (The climb performance penalties are something the pilots would take into account in their flight planning, but would only have an effect on a situation that was at or near the limits to begin with.) $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject May 29 '17 at 11:28
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    $\begingroup$ what the heck is a "flap track", by the way?! (I mean I can see what it is - but I've always wondered what they are!) $\endgroup$ – Fattie May 30 '17 at 4:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Fattie Feel free to ask a question about that. Ideally, without the profanities. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby May 30 '17 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Fattie those are usually long lead screws and are part of the actuator that moves the flaps. They extend outside the envelope of the wing itself and are usually covered with a cowling like that to reduce drag and keep the elements out of the mechanism. $\endgroup$ – Trevor_G May 30 '17 at 15:27
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    $\begingroup$ ahh ! so it's like a big long Kohlmorgen (or whatever) actuator, and it pushes the flaps up and down! of course (I guess that's why they are .. near the flaps .. and have .. the word "flaps" in the name :O ) duh on me. thanks! :) $\endgroup$ – Fattie May 30 '17 at 15:30
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Fully permitted according to this Configuration Deviation List for the A320:

One fairing may be partly or completely missing.

enter image description here

There are more posts about this occurring. As Noah Krasser points out, it looks fairly dodgy to observant passengers. This is the "Master" list, i.e. the safe and approved baseline. Some airlines may have changes in their own internal documents not to dispatch aircraft in this condition at all.

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    $\begingroup$ π % fuel increase .... that's a lot ! $\endgroup$ – Antzi May 29 '17 at 9:31
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    $\begingroup$ It may look dodgy but it's not like it's a safety-critical component $\endgroup$ – Ben May 29 '17 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Antzi yea a lot, especially for easyjet! $\endgroup$ – hat May 30 '17 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ THREE PERCENT! no way. also, it's not clear if they mean the front or rear fairing; slackers. $\endgroup$ – Fattie May 30 '17 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Fattie, you are correct it's not 3%, it's 3.14%. Also the note clearly states what do regarding the front or rear fairings. $\endgroup$ – Sports Racer May 31 '17 at 19:19
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The flap track fairings are not obligatory for safe operation of an aircraft.

I found a post on Airliners.net, regarding a B757:

Straight out of the MEL/CDL manual for the 757, The item falls under CDL 27-51-1 which states there are 6 installed [Flap Track Fairings, Remark] on the aircraft and up to one per side may be missing. No fuel burn penality but there are a few small weight penalities, no speed penality. Our A-300's with the same CDL item does have a 1% fuel burn penality and only one can be missing out of the 10 installed. I see this item come up 3 or 4 times a year, no biggie.

However, some Newspapers overact such things a little. It's about the loss of a flap track fairing on a 737 by the dailymail.

Pilot tells 109 passengers on plane that part of the wing had 'fallen off' and is then forced to make emergency landing

[...]

Lorenzo Hernadez Jnr took to Facebook to speak of what he described as his 'near death experience.'

[...]

'I heard a few people to the side of me scream to the aircrew, a piece broke and flew off and a panel was hanging.'

[...]

He goes on to describe how people were 'praying' as the plane experienced 'the worst turbulence ever.'

Source

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    $\begingroup$ Looks like a standard Dailymail article. $\endgroup$ – Vladimir F May 29 '17 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ @VladimirF Ah, good 'ole Daily Fail. $\endgroup$ – reirab May 30 '17 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ Come to think of it, if the 109 passengers were all 20mm in diameter, this could've been true... $\endgroup$ – Therac Jul 11 '18 at 15:24

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