Aircraft tires are tires which are designed to be used with aircraft. There are a number of concerns which need to be addressed in the design of aircraft tires, also known as aviation tires, to ensure that they operate safely. As a result, these tires tend to be quite costly, especially given the fact that they can last for as few as 100 landings.
Companies which manufacture aircraft tires usually produce three separate kinds of tires. The first are tires designed for general aviation, including sport aviation. The next is tires for commercial aviation such as passenger airliners and air freight. The third is military tires. Each type of aviation is different and has some unique limitations and needs which need to be considered.
The primary issue with aircraft tires is that they are subjected to tremendous stress. When planes land, the tires take the weight of the plane and endure some extreme friction as the plane hits the runway and starts to slow down. Friction quickly wears away the treads of the tires, and can lead to blowouts and other failures if tires are of poor quality or have not been well maintained. Aviation tires also need to be prepared for some serious weight, especially if they are used in commercial aviation, and to cope with conditions like wet and icy runways.
The structure of an aviation tire is extremely strong. Many have bands made from Kevlar® or similar materials to help maintain the integrity of the tire, along with thick tread made from high quality rubber. Aviation tires are also designed to be retreaded, a procedure which cuts down on cost by reducing the number of times an entire tire needs to be replaced. Retreading of aircraft tires can only take place in facilities licensed by aviation authorities.
Before takeoff, the tires on an aircraft are inspected, whether it's a two seater sport plane being taken up by a private pilot or a military jet being launched from an aircraft carrier. Tires are also inspected routinely when maintenance personnel go over planes after they have landed. If problems are identified, the plane is taken out of service until the tire can be repaired or replaced. If one tire fails, the matching tire is usually replaced at the same time.
Costs for aviation tires vary, depending on the type of use for which they are designed. Aircraft tires are sold directly through manufacturers and through dealers of aircraft maintenance supplies. Airlines often keep tires in stock in their maintenance hangers so that they do not have to wait on replacement parts.