What Goes Into an Aircraft Wheel?

The wheels are one of the most durable components on an aircraft and also one of the most abused. During each flight, the six wheels are responsible for supporting over 150,000 loads during taxiing, takeoff, and landing. In order to continuously perform under such conditions, aircraft wheels must be strong yet lightweight. In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about aircraft wheels, including their design, manufacturing process, and varying types.

Early versions of aircraft wheels were made from a single piece of metal, but as planes increased their carrying capacity, this design proved inefficient. Today, nearly every airplane is equipped with wheels featuring a two-piece configuration. Both halves of modern two-piece wheels are made from aluminum or magnesium alloys, which offer strong yet lightweight characteristics. In terms of design, they are securely bolted together when construction is complete, allowing the tubeless tires to be placed over the wheel.

The internal half of the wheel contains the brake rotors and is thus more likely to experience the brunt of high temperatures. Under normal operating conditions, there is a low likelihood that the heat produced by the tires could interfere with the wheel assembly, but this is not the case during a hard braking sequence. To prevent explosion during such circumstances, the inner wheel is equipped with thermal plugs that melt at low temperatures. When the tire reaches a potentially dangerous temperature, the thermal plugs melt and deflate the tires, therefore eliminating the risk of a high-pressure explosion. Furthermore, they are also equipped with an overinflation plug that can regulate the amount of air entering the tire if the pressure gets too high.

The external wheel half is less sophisticated, with most of its composition including bearings and other assemblies that allow for connection. Some aircraft mount this half with a wheel-spin transducer, which provides information about the RPMs to the anti-skid brake system. It is important to note that the valve stem for inflation and deflation is also typically found here.

Due to the enormous amount of pressure put on the wheels during regular operation, they should be frequently and thoroughly inspected for any signs of potential damage. One of the most critical elements to check is the axle nut torque since under, or over-tightening could lead to bearing wear and failure. When f the bearings, it is important to look for signs of galling or spalling, both of which are caused by an increase in friction. Another sign of potential damage is discoloration, which occurs when the metal is consistently exposed to excessive heat.

In addition to inspection, regular maintenance of the bearings and other assemblies is crucial to the safe and proper functioning of the wheels. To avoid excessive friction and overheating, they should be regularly lubricated with the manufacturer-recommended product. The bearings should also be cleaned of any dirty grease or debris by submersion and then pressurized air. The technician may also consider applying light-grit sandpaper to smooth out any mild corrosion. However, if the corrosion appears deep and causes pits to form, the bearing should be replaced before operation resumes.

If you are in the market for high-quality aircraft wheel components or assemblies, ASAP 3Sixty has you covered with unbeatable lead times and cost savings. With our inventory of over 2 billion ready-to-purchase aerospace components, customers can easily find their required items, whether they be new or obsolete. Additionally, as an AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited distributor, we regularly subject our inventory to several quality assurance tests to screen for any problems before shipping. If you are facing AOG requirements, be sure to let our team know, so they can discuss our same-day shipping options on select products with you.


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October 19, 2021

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