Main Functions of Aircraft Landing Gear

Despite not being essential for flight, landing gear is among the most critical components of any aircraft. In fact, landing gear makes up approximately 7% of an aircraft’s weight as well as 20% of its maintenance costs. The largest manufacturer of aircraft landing gear is Safran Landing Systems, who operate worldwide. The process of producing landing gear components involves precise engineering of high-quality materials. For example, the strut, considered the heart of the landing gear, is machined out of a solid column of high strength steel. In this blog, we will discuss the main functions of aircraft landing gear.

Apart from preventing the fuselage from hitting the ground on landing, the primary purposes of landing gear are to act as a shock absorber and to provide brakes to slow the aircraft down. The science behind landing gear shock absorption is a field of science unto itself. Nearly all commercial aircraft use oleo-pneumatic shock absorbers in the form of the aforementioned struts. A strut is essentially a telescoping tube within a tube. Shock energy from landing is absorbed by forcing oil into a chamber within the strut through small holes against a chamber of dry air or nitrogen. The oil and gas are maintained under extremely high pressures, as liquids do not reduce their volume under pressure.
In addition to shock absorption, landing gear must also be capable of a second function: to permit rebound. Rebound is required to ensure that, once the aircraft’s landing impact has been absorbed, it will return to a height above the ground rather than resting on deflated shock absorbers. Without rebound, the continued force on the landing gear would eventually damage or destroy them. The load experienced during landing, which depends on the weight of the aircraft and its landing speed, takes into account vertical, horizontal and side loads. Although any mechanical component can break, the likelihood that the landing gear would structurally fail during normal operation is minimal. Nevertheless, the quality of landing gear components installed on your aircraft is not something you should take lightly.
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