Inspired by the AWACS thread, I’ve always wondered about two features of airliners which have puzzled me:
For those models with engines on the rear of the fuselage (727 and DC-9/MD-80), they have a lot of what for the lack of a better term I call “pods” on the wings (visible on this model). I assume they are for stability or somesuch.
On the models with engines on the wings only (e.g. 747) there’s what looks like an exhaust outlet at the rear of the fuselage. What exactly is vented through this outlet?
The pods you speak of are called canoe fairings. They provide an aerodynamic cover for the flap tracks and actuators that move the flaps up and down. They have nothing to do with stability. The model in your picture is a poor example, it does not show the flaps as a separate part of the wing assembly.
Picture of flaps in full action. Since the flaps do not only move up and down but also project backwards behind the wing, while also lowered, they require extension and retraction mechanisms that may not fit entirely inside the structure.
Missed the edit window… in rear-engine AC they may be more visible due to there not being also the very conspicuous engine-mount pylons, but it’s not so much engine position as wing design that dictates how many or how large they’ll be. BTW the rear-engined planes do also have APUs, just that the exhaust/intake in some may be concealed behind the lateral engine cowlings. Embraer RJs very clearly have them in the tail.
One of the big aerodynamic improvements on the 737 Next Generation airplane was when they redesigned the trailing edge flaps so that one of the flap fairings could be combined with the engine strut fairing. Eliminated a bunch of drag.
The redesign also eliminated a lot of parts, saving a load of weight, too.
He may be referring to the “boundary layer” of air that adheres to the surfaces of airfoils.
When air flows around a wing shaped surface, (and we all know what that is so let’s not get into Bernoulli and all that), there is a thin layer of air that does not flow smoothly over the airfoil surface, but instead clings to it.
This results in excess drag.
To eliminate the stagnant boundary layer, many wings employ “vortex generators”. These small “winglets” perpendicular to the surface of the airfoil, create an airflow which helps to eliminate the boundary layer, and therefore reduce drag.
I’m surprised that your engineer of 33 years has never heard of this. Or that he couldn’t make the connection between “stagnant air” and the boundary layer.
I think it was just his “professional” stuck-up-idness that went into play because an “amateur” didn’t use the correct terminology.