Importance of aircraft tires
Aircraft tires can easily be taken for granted. Their simplistic appearance may lead some to a false feeling of complacency. Many technicians are not aware of the critical design factors that go into every aircraft tire in use today. Seemingly minor flaws can lead to disastrous results, and inadequate maintenance practices can cause shortened tire life and even cause unsafe operating conditions.
When one considers the forces that aircraft tires endure, it seems amazing that engineers were ever able to develop these special products. Some tires are subjected to speeds as fast as a race car while at the same time supporting more weight than the largest land moving machines. They go through cyclic exposure to varying temperatures and pressures. These factors make aircraft tire design a critical process and tire maintenance an ever important step in safe aircraft operation.
What type of tires are widely used in Aviation?
There is no longer the use of tube-type tire in recent aviation, nowadays all airliners use tubeless tires. Tubeless as the name suggests, are tires without a tube. The tire is built in such a way that it can contain air by itself. The tire has a halo or chloro-butyl lining on its inside which makes the tire airtight. Tires which are meant to be used without a tube mention “TUBELESS” on the sidewall of the tire.
Basic terminology of a tire
Crown: It is the strongest part of the tire. This area has the tire tread and is designed to withstand the wear of a normal operation.
Shoulder: This is a change in profile thickness from the crown and is not designed to take wear. An under inflated tire will show maximum wear on the shoulder.
Sidewall: This is the thinnest and therefore, weakest section of a tire and is designed to flex when loads are applied.
Bead: This is designed to fit against the rim of the wheel, known as the bead seat.
What is Aquaplaning?
The term given to a condition where the aircraft’s tires are riding on a liquid film and are not in direct contact with the runway surface is aquaplaning.
The resulting effects are:
- Wheel skids, which damage or burst the affected tires due to brakes locking the wheels
- Increased landing roll, due to the loss of braking efficiency
- Loss of directional control
What actions can be done to avoid Aquaplaning?
The following precautionary measures can be taken to avoid Aquaplaning:
- Avoid landing in heavy precipitation and give time for the runway to drain.
- Know the aquaplaning speed of the main tires and wheels
- Use flaps to land at the lowest practicable speed
- Do not perform a long flare or allow the aircraft to drift in the flare.
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