Despite the fact that aircraft spend the majority of their time in the air, it is crucial to have wheels and tires for proper flight safety and functionality for takeoff, landing, and other maneuvers across the runway. In fact, aircraft require special tires that are distinct from typical automotive-grade tires. Airplane tires must be heavy-duty and able to accommodate the entire weight of the vehicle. As an interesting and unique feature of aircraft, this blog will cover five interesting facts you might not know about airplane tires.
The first interesting fact about the tires used on aircraft is that they have different tread patterns than those on the tires of automobiles. Special tread patterns designed to increase stability in high-wind and other extreme weather conditions are used, as the tread pattern is used to create traction on the runway. This in turn prevents the airplane from moving too much and steadies the vehicle to prevent the risk of hydroplaning on a wet runway.
A second interesting bit of information about airplane tires is that there are hundreds of manufacturers from which one can buy these specially designed tires; however, there are four leading brands that manufacture the majority of aircraft tires. These include Goodyear, Michelin, Bridgestone, and Dunlop Aircraft Tyres, which together account for about 80%-90% of all aircraft tires sold globally. At the same time, some other manufacturers produce high-caliber aircraft tires that can be relied on with ease, including Eaton Aerospace Ltd, Eurocopter American, Eurocopter France, Eaton Corporation, and Eads Casa.
When operating land vehicles, tires can experience blowouts from an excessive amount of force, but aircraft tires are unique in that they almost never experience blowouts. Interestingly, airplane tires are required to withstand at least four times the pressure for which they are rated over a period of at least three seconds.
Despite their high-durability in regards to pressure, one interesting drawback to keep in mind about aircraft tires is their susceptibility to overheating. For example, situations where the pilot brakes too quickly on the runway will produce friction that generates enough heat to melt away the tread. This will cause permanent damage to the tires.
A final interesting tidbit about these special tires that makes them unique from average road tires is that they are filled with nitrogen gas, or in some cases, oxygen. Nitrogen is the safer option as it is an inert gas and does not share the combustible properties of oxygen that cause tires to explode. As such, it is a safer option to fill aircraft tires with nitrogen.
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