By Girish Linganna
On Monday, a tyre exploded on a SpiceJet Delhi-Mumbai aircraft as it touched down at the airport. However, no passengers or crew members suffered injuries. The airline reported that a deflated tyre from one of its planes was discovered after arriving at the Mumbai airport.
Flight SG-8701 was carried out by a SpiceJet B737-800 (Delhi – Mumbai). According to the airline’s spokesperson, the plane safely touched down on the runway. After departing the runway, one tyre was learned to be deflated upon landing. No smoke or fumes were noticed. According to ATC’s advice, the aircraft was parked in a specific berth, according to a spokeswoman. The representative further stated that all passengers successfully departed, and the captain felt nothing unusual during the landing.
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Upon landing, one tyre of Flight SG-8701 was found deflated after vacating the runway, said the airlines in its statement. However, no fumes or smoke was reported. The aircraft was parked at the designated bay as advised by air traffic control. The captain felt no abnormality during the landing.
Aircraft Tyres: Supporting Expensive Planes and Invaluable Lives
When a plane lands, its tyres are subjected to tremendous stress. When two surfaces move in opposition to one another, as when your hands rub together, friction is created.
When aeroplane tyres contact the runway, they cause friction. This friction produces heat. The tire’s outer layer is also weakened by it. This is why flexible, durable polymers are used to reinforce aeroplane tyres. Kevlar, an incredibly durable composite, is one of these materials. Kevlar is lightweight, durable, heat-resistant, and flexible.
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Flexible tyres are crucial for aircraft. Aircraft tyres’ flexibility allows them to absorb more of the shock of landing. Additionally, flexibility slows down tyre wear.
Aircraft tyres are made to sustain huge loads for brief periods, and the number of tyres needed rises as the plane’s weight distributes the load more evenly.
An airplane tyre can make about 500 landings before it needs to be repaired. The top layer of tread is typically peeled off and changed out for new tread. Therefore, there is no need to change the remaining components.
There are two main risks concerning tyres: deflation and explosive breakup. The tyre deflates gradually with little direct impact on other systems. This is what happened with the SpiceJet flight. Explosive breakup occurs when a tyre (and occasionally the wheel supporting the tyre) deflates or explodes without control, potentially causing additional damage to unrelated systems.
Two contributing elements for tyres to deflate or explode are foreign object damage (FOD) near the working areas and the shortest possible window between push-back/startup and takeoff slot time.
Preventing Mishaps: How Tyre Risks Can Be Mitigated
Consider slower taxi speeds and softer turning radii when planning. The following precautions may be wise if it is known that the brakes and tyres could be hot to give the parts time to cool:
– After takeoff, keep the gear down for a long time.
– Avoid committing to a landing too soon after takeoff, if possible.
– Observe the cooling-period instructions in the Flight Manual, such as following an emergency stop at any speed.
The materials inside also protect the tyres on aeroplanes. They frequently have nitrogen in them. Nitrogen is a nonflammable gas. Metal parts of an aircraft are not corroded by it. In addition, rubber in tyres is not oxidised (degraded) by nitrogen. The tyres themselves are made of at least three layers of rubber. Each layer is applied uniquely. This reinforces the tyre and enhances its traction on landing.
Aircraft tyres are made with tread patterns that help stabilise strong crosswinds, divert water away to avoid aquaplaning and provide braking power. Some varieties of nose wheel tyres include one (or two) chine formed into the rubber on the shoulder buttresses that deflects water away from the aircraft as it is moving on a wet runway. Additionally, avionic tyres have heat fuses (also known as fusible plugs) intended to melt at a specific temperature to lower the possibility of an explosive déflation brought on by overheating.
Following recent reports of technical issues with some of SpiceJet’s aircraft, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued an order last month requiring the airline to perform no more than 50% of its scheduled flights for eight weeks.
According to the order, for eight weeks, the number of departures was limited to 50% of the number of departures authorised under the summer schedule 2022 due to the results of different spot checks, inspections, and SpiceJet’s response to the show cause notice. The airline would be under “increased observation” by the DGCA for these eight weeks.
Author is Aerospace & Defence Analyst.
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