We all know that an aircraft has many vital components, but people typically only think about the engine, wings, or electronic components. People don’t often think about the landing gear. The aircraft landing gear is a vital component with important responsibilities. They must withstand the entire weight of the airplane during landing and takeoff, which can be as heavy as 600 tons, fully loaded.
Most landing gear have wheels, but this is typically determined by the type of aircraft and the operating conditions that the aircraft has to deal with. Planes can be retrofitted with skis for snow, or pontoons for water landings.
Landing gear can vary greatly in form, function, and name, but they all have the same basic components: shock absorbing equipment, brakes, retraction mechanisms, controls, warning devices, cowling, and fairings. All these components are necessary for proper operation and functionality of the aircraft landing gear. What’s amazing is that, often, landing gear can be retrofitted such that the aircraft can land in multiple landing configurations. Some planes, with pontoon gear for landing in water, can also be fitted with wheels that allow them to land on the ground too. For icy and snowy runways, planes can have wheels and retractable skis to make them more versatile and able to land in almost any environment.
There are typically three types of landing gear arrangements. First is the tail wheel-type landing gear, which have two wheels in the front and one under the tail. Second is the tandem landing gear; this landing gear is set up like the tail wheel-type, but the difference is the front and back wheels are aligned on a longitudinal axis. And lastly is the tricycle-type landing gear. This type of landing gear has two wheels in the front and two wheels under the wings. All three arrangements are typical for larger aircraft such as the Boeing 747.
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