The configuration that provides the maximum FLEX temperature varies with the runway length.

On short runways, CONF 3 usually provides the highest FLEX temperature, and the tail clearance at lift off does not depends on the configuration.

On medium or long runways, the second segment limitation becomes the limiting factor, and CONF 2 or CONF 1+F becomes the optimum configuration, in term of FLEX temperature.

In these cases, the tail clearance at lift off depends on the configuration. The highest flap configuration gives the highest tailstrike margin.

How does the flap configuration affect the tailstrike limit?

  • $\begingroup$ It would be better to explicitly state the aircraft type in the main body of the question rather than a tag. $\endgroup$ – skipper44 Dec 23 '20 at 7:42

A higher configuration number indicates that the flaps/slats are extended by an higher amount.

In turns this means that for the same angle of attack the wings will produce higher lift (and drag) in the higher configuration.

You achieve take-off when the lift is at least equal to the weight of the aircraft, and with higher flap/slat deflection you will have sufficient lift even when the nose is relatively low on the horizon, leaving plenty of margin against a tailstrike.

On the other hand, if you are using a low configuration, the flaps/slats will be mostly retracted, and you will need a higher AoA to produce sufficient lift, meaning that you have to raise the nose of the aircraft more, leaving less margin against a tailstrike.


In order to take off and subsequently climb, the aircraft needs to create lift greater than weight. It does so by rotating.

enter image description hereImage source

Compare the lift of the plain airfoil with that of the airfoil with flaps: the green line produces a certain lift at a lower AoA than the blue line. It needs to rotate less in order to take off. The highest risk of tailstrike occurs at the highest rotation angle, which is required at the lowest flap setting.


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