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What Is a Landing Gear?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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An aircraft’s landing gear is equipment that serves two primary functions. First, it allows a plane to safely and successfully land. Second, it supports the plane while it is at rest.

The landing gear of all types of aircraft is not the same. Varying factors often involve the wheels. Different aircraft can have different numbers of wheels. The wheels may also be positioned in different places.

It is common for wheels to be placed in a triangular design. Tail-wheel landing equipment, for example, may have a wheel under the tail and one under each wing. On other planes, the triangle may be reversed so there is a wheel under the nose instead of under the tail.

The larger an airplane is the more wheels it is likely to have. Some large airplanes can have dozens of wheels. These are likely to be placed under the fuselage, under the wings, and under the nose.

Retractability can also make the landing gear of one aircraft different from that of another. Some airplanes have fixed landing equipment. This means that even once such an aircraft has taken off and is in flight, its wheels will still be visible. This can be a disadvantage, however, because this exposed equipment can cause the plane to be slower than it otherwise would be.

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Other airplanes have retractable landing gear. This means that when the equipment is needed it can be brought out. Once the airplane has taken off, however, this equipment is drawn into compartments of the airplane that prevent it from being visible.

Some airplanes do not have wheels as part of the landing equipment. Instead, they may have floats. This is because these types of planes are not meant to rest on land. They are designed to descend onto water. The landing gear of these types of vessels can also vary.

In some floating aircraft, known as flying boats, the body of the vessel is part of the landing gear. As with a normal boat, the body helps to prevent the aircraft from sinking. These vessels also may also have floats, commonly attached to the wings.

There are some floating aircraft that have floats extended from the body of the plane. There are usually long rod-like structures that connect the body of the airplane to the floats. This prevents the body of the plane from touching the water.

There are still other aircraft known as amphibians. These vessels can be used on water or on land. This means that they need floats and wheels. The wheels are often retractable and stored in the floats.

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