As operators know, wheels and brakes need attention—and plenty of it. The wheels and tires take the brunt of a landing. And bringing a large aircraft to a stop requires the brakes to absorb enormous amounts of heat. But these lowly elements of sleek flying machines can wreak havoc with an aircraft if they are not properly looked after.
Life is hard for wheels and brakes at the best of times. But operational and environmental conditions can also take a toll. Additional wear or damage can result from extended taxiing, short field or hard landings, and exposure to extreme operational conditions and elements, such as rejected takeoffs, inadequate tire pressure, and overheated brakes, explains Steve Kelly, director of product repair services for Aviall, now a unit of Boeing.
Tire and brake wear can differ, depending on factors in a customer’s operation, such as climate and runway conditions and landing procedures, says Hilde Pilkuhn-Alizadeh, section manager in the Wheels & Brakes and Cabin Electronics business unit, with Lufthansa Technik (LHT) Aircraft Component Services. Oxidation of heat stacks is a problem, especially in cold winters, due to extensive use of runway deicing fluid, she adds.
That’s why wheel and brake repair and overhaul (R&O) is a steady business. In Europe the commercial wheel and brake MRO market is estimated to be worth some $800 million, growing at two to four percent per year, according to LHT.
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