Landing Gear Development for Aircraft Exceeding One Million Pounds 942124
Despite present day economic uncertainty, an increase in the future demands for air travel is anticipated by the worlds' leading commercial aircraft manufacturers. This is resulting in many design investigations of aircraft with gross take-off weights ranging from 900,000lb to 1,600,000lb.
Assuming that current marketing predictions to be correct, and the available power plants being sufficient to satisfy the flight efficiency and range requirements, the most formidable challenge to the success of such large and heavy aircraft may well exist on the ground.
Existing military aircraft, which may have take-off weights higher than 1,600,000lb. will not be compared in this document. This is due to the possible lower life cycle expectancy of military landing gear, and differences in runway strength and maintenance of military airfields.
In the commercial arena, the largest, and one of the most successful aircraft, is the Boeing 747-400. (873,000lb) This aircraft has been acknowledged by many airlines, to have acceptable “flotation” and “maneuverability” performance, at least for the more modern airports.
The word “flotation” is a name given to the aircraft/runway strength relationship.
“Maneuverability” is the name given to the ability of the aircraft to turn on the ground.
These issues have adverse affects on one another. In order to meet flotation requirements, widely spread main wheels and gear arrangements are needed, which can drastically increase the “reluctance to turn” of the aircraft. This problem is magnified when a fore and aft “stagger” between the main gears is a feature of the aircraft. (eg: Boeing 747). It would appear appropriate therefore, that all future large aircraft be equal to, or better than the 747-400 with regard to both flotation and maneuverability.