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Plane Facts: Airplane Tires

Check out these cool facts about airplane tires!

First pneumatic airplane-specific tire: Goodyear 1909

Number of tires on the Antonov AN-225 freighter: 32

Typical cost of a tire for a light plane: $100-$250

Cost of the tires on the Airbus A380: About $5,500 apiece

Number of retreads a tire can take: Up to 10 before replacement

Composition of almost all aircraft tires: Rubber, steel and fabric

Length of time it takes NASCAR pit crews to change a tire: A few seconds

For ready-to-go crew to change a tire on an Airbus A320: 45 minutes

Inflation pressure in a typical car’s tires: 35 psi

Inflation of the tires in a Lockheed Martin F-16: 320 psi

Convair XB-36 airplane tires
A close-up of the single-wheeled portside main gear unit on a Convair XB-36.

Inflation gas in a light plane: Air


In an airliner: Nitrogen

Reason: Nitrogen is inert, so it doesn’t react with the rubber at high altitudes

Rated speed for a typical airliner tire: 200-250 mph

Reason for chines (perpendicular fins on the sidewalls): Keep rain water from getting into the engine inlets

Largest aircraft tire (that we’ve been able to find): 110 inches, B-36 Peacemaker bomber


Weight of the B-36 tire on the runway: 156 pounds per square inch

Number of runways worldwide in late ’30s rated to handle that load: 3

Ultimate replacement: A four-wheel bogie (multi-wheel gear)

Failed alternative: Tank-style tracks

Problem with SR-71 Blackbird tires: High heat could ignite them

Solution: An aluminum–latex blend filled with nitrogen


Inflation pressure: 415 psi

Size of DC-3 tailwheel: 6 inches, larger than J-3 Cub main gear

Reason for FAA testing of large-tire airplanes, 1995: Frequent stall-spin crashes

FAA theory at the time: Large tires cause stall increase as bank increases

FAA finding: Inconclusive

Largest size tundra tire approved by FAA today: 35-inch tire diameter

X-15 nose tire problem: Prone to shredding on landing

Landing speed of X-15: 242 mph

Main gear on X-15: Metal skids

First radial tire approved by FAA: Goodyear, 1983

Reason that rubber builds up on runways: Spin-up friction

Amount deposited on a runway by landing jet liner: 1 pound

Pounds of rubber built up on a typical international airport runway every three months: 10,000 pounds

Reason it has to be regularly removed: Increases risk of hydroplaning

Most common removal method: Water pressure (up to 40,000 psi and 30 gallons per minute)

Other methods: Chemical removal and milling of the runway surface

Number of dimensions used to describe aircraft tires: At least 12

Number of tires on the space shuttle: 6 (two nose and four main gear tires)

Rated speed, respectively, for those tires: 250/263 mph

Want more crazy, fun, or frightening facts about all things aviation? Check out our Plane Facts Archive.


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