One of the first major challenges to overcome in aviation was the ability for the aircraft to land and come to a complete stop in a short distance. Over the years, the need for a more robust landing system has become more pronounced due to the increased airspeed and weight of modern aircraft. Today, the landing system comprises thrust reversers and brakes, both of which are redundant and used simultaneously to stop the plane. In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about the aircraft landing system, highlighting details about thrust reversers and braking systems.
Aircraft brakes have to produce an immense amount of friction in order to slow planes of any size. Disc brakes account for a majority of those in use among all vehicle types. Depending on the size of the aircraft, a single, dual, or multiple-disc brake system may be implemented. It is important to note that the number of discs is applied to each wheel, meaning a light tricycle aircraft with a single disc system must have three wheels. This remains true in most cases, with the notable exception being the nose and tail wheels, which are not equipped with a brake unit. In addition to the braking units, most landing systems are fitted with accessories that add additional layers of safety.
It is often difficult for the pilots to discern whether the wheels have come to a complete stop or if they are in a skid. The anti-skid system is able to detect skids as they are happening, often even before they happen, and relieve brake pressure temporarily to prevent rapid deceleration.
The auto-brake system can be engaged by the pilot before takeoff and landing to aid in both events. For takeoff, in particular, the auto-brake system can be used in a rejected takeoff situation to help bring the plane to a quick yet safe stop. During landing, the auto-brake system will slow the aircraft in a smooth manner using a calculated deceleration value, although the pilot may take over control at any time by applying pressure to the brakes.
Brake Temperature Indicators
This system is helpful in determining the stress applied to each braking unit, while also indicating issues such as dragging or brake inoperability. The temperature indicators also warn the pilots if the brakes are reaching their maximum temperature, as exceeding it could lead to a fire.
Thrust reversers work in conjunction with the braking system to enhance their operational lifespan by reducing wear. They work by reversing the direction of the engine's exhaust stream to provide deceleration. Thrust reversers may either be target-type, cascade, or clam-shell variations. The target-type was first made popular through its implementation on the Boeing 707. It uses hydraulic-powered doors to reverse the thrust direction rapidly. For high-bypass ratio turbofan engines, cascade reversers are used to change the direction of the fan's airflow. Meanwhile, turbojet engines make use of pneumatic-actuated clam-shell reversers, which block the engine's main exhaust port, forcing the rest through an angulated vent that promotes deceleration.
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