Aircraft Landing Gear – Most Common Types

aircraft landing gear
Innovations of science and technology are great contributors to the convenience and comfort that we people of the modern era continue to enjoy. Because of their increasing number of new inventions, we tend to ignore some important ones like the aircraft landing gear.

Take the airplane as an example. It is undeniably the fastest and easiest means of travel. It is man’s answer to his quest to fly. While this dream has been fulfilled, only a few people have realized that our dream of taking off to space on an aircraft will never happen without the aircraft landing gear.

Landing gears are also called undercarriages or nose landing gears. These are the support mechanisms that maintain the balance of the aircraft while it is in the process of landing or taking off. It is the part of the aircraft that allows it to taxi about in the runway upon departure or arrival.

There are three basic types of airplane landing gear. These are:

Tail Wheel-Type Landing Gear

Also called the conventional landing gear, this arrangement is used in many earlier aircraft. In the tail-wheel arrangement, the main wheels are located forward of the center of gravity. This causes the tail to require support from a third wheel near the tail-end. Older conventional landing gear use skid instead at the tail to allow the aircraft to skid effectively on non-paved surfaces. This has become obsolete with the proliferation of hard surface runways.

Tandem Landing Gear

This is not a popular type of landing gear as it is used only on a few aircraft. As its name implies, this aircraft landing gear is designed with the main and tail gears aligned on the longitudinal axis of the airplane. Most sailplanes are equipped with tandem gear, although most of them are fitted with only one gear forward on the fuselage and a skid under the tail.

Tricycle-Type Landing Gear

This is the most common type of landing gear arrangement. It is composed of a main gear and a nose gear. Most modern airplanes regardless of size use tricycle-type landing gear because of its benefits:

1. It facilitates visibility during landing or ground maneuvering.

2. Prevents the aircraft from ground looping.

3. Many aircraft have multiple wheels. This facilitates the distribution or the weight of the aircraft over a large area and provides additional safety if one tire fails. This is especially useful for heavy aircraft.

The landing gear is an important part of any aircraft. Like other parts, it works to keep the airplane safe and manageable especially during take-off and touch-down.

image credit: Olivier (flickr.com)


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