enter image description here
Source: planespotters.net: 1, 2

Regardless of the airline, that part is always unpainted, and in the right conditions, it looks shiny. From below the plane, it wraps around the wing–body fairing.

Is it a sensor or indicator of some kind? Like for stresses? There must be a reason it's never painted over. From the operating manual I ruled out it's an antenna.


1 Answer 1


I chanced upon the answer in a 2005 Flight Global article when I was looking into a hypothesis that the fairing is made of different materials.

The stripe is a flexible joint:

Although the fairing is not theoretically designed to carry fuselage loads, Airbus has built the fairing to absorb the inevitable bending loads that will be transferred from the primary structure of the fuselage to the skin fairing through the belly substructure. The metallic strip visible in the aft section of the fairing on MSN001 is a flexible joint designed to help further absorption of these loads.

My conclusion is that if painted, the paint would crack with flexing, which isn't a good look. Knowing that it's a joint, finding the relevant 2005 Airbus patent was much easier:

An object of the invention is to provide a fairing capable of absorbing compression and bending forces due to the movements of the aircraft and transmitted to the fairing, regardless of the size of said fairing. More specifically, the object of the invention is therefore to reduce the frontal loads received by the fairing. A further object of the invention is to reduce a total weight of an aircraft equipped with a fairing.

enter image description here

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ In other words, it's a great big piece of weatherstrip. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 19:47
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @JohnK Some people would fly the A380 just to get high with such a great big joint. $\endgroup$
    – dotancohen
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 12:08

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