AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

What Is a Flap Actuator & How Does It Work?

An aircraft flap actuator is a mechanical device that is utilized to adjust the flaps on wings. More specifically, they serve as adjustable control surfaces on the rear edge of the wings. Additionally, they can be extended or retracted to adjust to the profile and surface area of the wings, facilitating a smooth flight at low airspeeds.

Flap actuators use a lead screw type mechanism powered by an electric or hydraulic motor. Mounted in a fixed position on the wing, it features a moving nut on the lead screw with an integral bracket connected to the flap assembly. Once the actuator has been activated, the lead screws rotate, moving the nut up or down its length and extending or retracting the flap.

In particular, fixed-wing aircraft are able to achieve and maintain flight due to the lift generated by their wings. The amount of lift they can successfully generate is the result of their design and the speed at which they traverse the air. Aircraft with a modest range of airspeeds are easier to design wings for, with a single profile and surface area being most common for all stages of flight.

When an aircraft’s performance increases and a greater range of airspeeds are present during normal flight, things can get a bit complicated. In most cases, the wing must be designed to maintain the aircraft at the higher end of its flight speed envelope. It is important to note that aircraft take off and land at speeds that are typically lower than their cruise speeds.

As lift is a product of wing design and airspeed, the wing’s basic construction will cease to generate ample lift at lower speeds. To counter this, sets of adjustable control surfaces called flaps are mounted on the trailing edge of the wing. These devices either extend or retract to effectively change the wing’s profile and surface area, facilitating lift at low speeds. The flaps can be adjusted by an air flap actuator.

Moreover, the flap controls are adjusted to extend the flaps in predictable increments to accommodate varying airspeeds. However, not all aircraft employ a lead screw flap actuator. In particular, older and smaller aircraft have actuators that consist of  steel cables running from the cockpit control lever to a set of hinged rods located on the wing’s trailing edge to actuate the flaps.

If you find yourself in need of flap control units, trim tabs, wing assembly parts, and other related items, look no further than Alpha Purchasing. Alpha Purchasing is a leading distributor of flap actuators, all of which have been sourced from top global manufacturers. With over 2 billion items in our inventory, fulfilling your operational requirements is quick and easy. Initiate the procurement process with a competitive quote and see how Alpha Purchasing can serve as your strategic sourcing partner!


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September 23, 2022
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