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I fly Piper Archer/Warriors and the POH states "Maximum Flaps Extended Speed (VFE) – Do not exceed this speed with the flaps extended." I try not to but I occasionally may exceed Vfe with one notch of flaps during a descent. Could there be structural damage to the flaps in time or do aircraft designers factor in such potential pilot errors?

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    $\begingroup$ Yes they do, within reason. Covered by my answer here: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/69857/… $\endgroup$ – John K Nov 26 '19 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ You're descending at above 103 KIA with flaps extended in a PA28? Why? Slow down or retract the flaps! $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Nov 26 '19 at 8:34
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Unless a different speed is explicitly noted for partial flap extension, Vfe pertains to extending the flaps any amount. (For example, the C-172RG has a Vfe of 130 KIAS to 10º flaps, 100 KIAS beyond 10º flaps. Not so for the PA28s.)

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VFE is calculated for full flap extension, so the loads with just one notch of flaps are much smaller than the limit loads which determine VFE. It is very unlikely that this results in structural damage. Having said that, there is really no reason to exceed VFE with flaps down.

There are two types of damage that could result from flying too fast with flaps extended. The flaps or their attachments could be overloaded, or the wing loads in a vertical gust might exceed the strength of the wing. Both should be avoided.

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  • $\begingroup$ On large aircraft, there are separate Vfe for different flap extensions. $\endgroup$ – JZYL Nov 26 '19 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Jimmy: Yes, and the question is about a PA-28. FYI: This is a small GA aircraft. Wikipedia even has an article on it, complete with specs. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Nov 26 '19 at 22:46

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