Plane & Pilot
Thursday, December 1, 2005

What Makes Airplane Tires So Special?

We went to Michelin for a short course

What Makes Airplane Tires So SpecialAirplane tires are a breed unto themselves. A tire on your car has it easy compared to one on an aircraft. Your car doesn’t drive along a sun-baked, 120-degree F taxiway, then climb into sub-zero temps several miles above the Earth, hanging in a 100-mph wind, then come down and smash onto the ground at 80 miles an hour, maybe even bouncing a few times. Not just any tire is up to the mission.


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What Makes Airplane Tires So Special?For the aircraft tires you have now, Le and Stackhouse offer two important thoughts for pilots. One, your aircraft tires are in every sense of the term “high-performance tires.” They need care and maintenance to continue delivering the performance for which they were designed. Second, your high-performance tires were designed to operate at a specified pressure. Underinflated tires won’t perform their best and, in some cases, can even become a safety issue. For example, Michelin makes the tires for the space shuttle, and those tires need 600 psi. You can bet that tire inflation is an important part of the NASA preflight checklist and it should be part of yours as well.

If you’d like to get smart about your airplane tires, Michelin has a unique section on its Website called Certified Aircraft Tire Expert, levels 1 and 2 (, and you can find a wealth of other info on airplane tires. Or if you want, you can call the company at (877) 503-8071 ext. 4 and speak directly to a Michelin aircraft tire engineer.

“You can actually talk to the engineer who designed your tire!” smiles Stackhouse. “We do that almost every day.”

That kind of effort to educate pilots about their plane’s tires works well for everybody. “The smarter the customers are,” says Stackhouse, “the more likely they are to buy Michelin.”



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