Aircraft Brakes: Types, Uses, and Control
Just as with automobiles, Aircraft rely on their wheels and brakes for safely slowing down during operation. Aircraft are intensely heavy vehicles, averaging around 175,000 pounds due to the structural weight and fuel. Because of this, wheels and brakes are important to mitigate the impact forces of landing, safely slow down or stop the aircraft, as well as allow for taxiing and ground operations. In this blog, we will discuss the types of aircraft brake systems, as well as how they are operated.
The disc brake system
is one of the most common types of airplane brakes. They function similarly to those that are present within automobiles, but are much more heavy duty due to aircraft conditions and operations. A disc brake slows down the rotation of an aircraft wheel by pressing pads against the spinning disc with the use of calipers. As pressure increases from the calipers and pads, friction is generated which causes disc rotation to slow down until it reaches a complete stop and is held in place. Often, an aircraft brake system such as the disc brake is actuated with the use of hydraulic controls. While disc brakes are useful for ground operations, friction is dependent on weight and thus such brake types can do little to slow an aircraft while they are in flight.
When an aircraft is in flight and needs to slow its speed, whether for landing or other operations, the pilot may use spoilers
and reverse thrusting. Spoilers are flaps that are present on the end of wings and are deployed to increase drag while reducing lift. This causes the aircraft to lose velocity and slow down. Reverse thrusters, meanwhile, are used to direct the exhaust and propulsive forces of combusted gas forward to slow down the aircraft. With both the spoilers and reverse thrusters, strain and stress is also taken off of the wheels, allowing for more efficient braking while reducing wear on the wheels.
To actuate the aircraft brake system, pilots utilize rudder pedals
which are connected to mechanical and hydraulic systems. Oftentimes, there are a left and right pedal, allowing the pilot to either activate the brakes on the left or right side of the aircraft. Spoilers are self activated, controlled by a computer that operates them as needed, such as when the wheels make contact with the ground during landing operations. Reverse thrust is also activated automatically during landing operations, though they may also be operated manually with the use of thrust levers within the cockpit.
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Posted on April 10, 2020