Boeing recently announced it will use a different sort of tire on the 737 MAX, one that is 20 per cent lighter, wears better, and performs better on landings than tires used on most aircraft.There’s no revolutionary design here: The airline is switching over to the radial tire, which has been used on most cars and trucks for the past 60 years.
In the October 1 issue of the magazine Aviation Week, Michael Mecham explained that the reason most aeroplanes still use bias-ply tires is that aviation regulations are slow to catch up with changing technologies.
Southwest Airlines made the switch on the nose wheels for its 737-700s, and found that the radial tires lasted up to a month, 10 days longer than the bias-ply tires it was using before.
Now Boeing has approved radial tires for the main landing gear (the rear two wheels) as well.
According to Mecham, this is a growing trend: Boeing has gone for radials on the 787 as well as 737 MAX, and Airbus did the same on its A350 and A380. But 70 per cent of commercial aircraft in service today are still taxiing and landing on inferior, bias-ply tires.
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