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Online Extra: Safety Tip

The Importance of Properly Inflated Aircraft Tires

January 24, 2011

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued a safety alert for operators (SAFO) stressing the importance of ensuring that aircraft tires are properly inflated and detailing the potential consequences that improper tire pressure can have on aircraft performance during taxi, takeoff and landing.

Review SAFO 11001: The Importance of Properly Inflated Aircraft Tires (39KB, PDF)

This guidance comes on the heels of a National Transportation Safety Board determination that inadequate aircraft-tire maintenance was the probable cause of a 2008 accident in which a Learjet 60 overran the runway at South Carolina’s Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE). Severe underinflation caused multiple tires on the Learjet to fail during the takeoff roll, and the resulting accident killed both pilots and two passengers and seriously injured two other passengers.

The FAA notes that aircraft tires are designed to carry specified loads during a variety of temperatures and wheel speeds. When tires are underinflated or improperly serviced, they are severely compromised, with sometimes catastrophic consequences.

Research has shown that transport-category airplanes can lose as much as 5 percent of tire pressure per day under typical operations. At that rate, it would only take a few days before tires require servicing. Therefore, the tire pressure interval checks specified by the maintenance manual should be followed to ensure that tires remain inflated within specifications.

Besides being a safety hazard, chronically underinflated tires may wear out quicker and need to be replaced prematurely. Also, servicing underinflated tires without proper protection, such as a tire screen or other protective device, may damage an aircraft or injure the individual servicing the tire. Therefore, anyone responsible for maintaining aircraft tires should be aware of the importance of proper tire pressures, appropriately calibrated tire-pressure gauges and all servicing safety precautions.

Last year, NBAA produced an episode of the Association’s weekly NBAA Flight Plan podcast focusing on tire safety best practices in the wake of the Lear crash. "Operators should ensure they have developed appropriate procedures to ensure tire pressures remain within allowable limits," Keat Pruszenski, manager of customer support engineering for Michelin North America, Inc.'s Aircraft Tire Company Division tells Flight Plan host Pete Combs.

Listen to the podcast "Tire Maintenance and Your Flight Operation."

For More Information

For additional information, visit NBAA Safety Alert: Tire Pressure.

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