The Airline Attendant Says: Are Plane Tires Really More Expensive Than Gold?

Known for their incredible strength and durability, aircraft tires are designed to withstand loads of up to 38 tons. With a near-zero chance of bursting, these tires are truly a marvel of engineering.

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Due to the nature of modern transportation operating primarily in the air, airplanes require very strict technical requirements in manufacturing, operation, and maintenance. Especially with important details and components of the aircraft such as engines, fuselage, aircraft tires.

Someone once said airplane tires are more expensive than gold. What is the reason?

Airplane tires are very important for aircraft as they are used during takeoff and landing. During the landing process, some tires will generate strong friction when landing, and the weight of the aircraft can be up to hundreds of tons, so the requirements for the quality of aircraft tires are still very high.

Aircraft tires run on runways at speeds of 274 km/h and bear loads equivalent to a small office building. A typical aircraft tire can withstand loads of up to 38 tons. Each tire can run on the ground 300 times before needing to be replaced (the outer surface in contact with the road).

At the first moment after the aircraft touches the ground, the tires will slide instead of rolling. The aircraft pulls them along the runway until the rotating speed of the tires matches the speed of the aircraft. This is the reason why aircraft tires often smoke during landing.

Currently, the only company that can produce aircraft tires is Michelin, which also shows that aircraft tires have very strict technical standards. And to ensure the safety of passengers, aircraft tires must be replaced after 300 landings.

The price of aircraft tires is certainly not cheap, because the weight of an aircraft is about hundreds of tons, just a few tires can lift the entire aircraft, so tire materials need to be very harsh. Depending on the type of aircraft, manufacturer, and other criteria, aircraft tires have price differences ranging from a few tens of USD, a few hundred USD to several thousand USD per tire. Not to mention, the cost of aircraft maintenance is also very high.

Each replacement costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, so some people believe that in terms of value, gold loses to aircraft tires. Of course, this comparison may not follow the rule, because the price of gold is determined by weight and purity, and overall, the used tires will wear out, so it is very difficult to compare.

Little-known facts about airplanes

There is no safest seat on an airplane: According to the perception of many people, the safest seat on an airplane is usually at the back of the plane. However, according to the data of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there is no safe seat on an airplane. No matter where you sit, the mortality rate in the event of an accident is the same.

Secret sleeping area for flight crew: For long-haul flights, the flight crew can extend their working hours up to 16 hours per day. This will inevitably cause fatigue, and to help them rest, some aircraft have been equipped with small sleeping areas where the flight crew can have a short nap. This dedicated area usually has 6-10 beds, a bathroom, and sometimes even an entertainment area on the plane.

Why are there holes in airplane windows?: Airplane windows are made of 3 different layers of mica. Due to the temperature difference at different altitudes, these mica sheets have to withstand very high pressures. And the presence of a small hole between the mica sheet inside and outside allows pressure adjustment so that these layers do not break. In addition, it helps the window from freezing or condensing water.

Frequently asked questions

Airplane tires are expensive due to several factors. Firstly, they are designed and built to withstand extreme conditions, ensuring the safety of the aircraft and its passengers. These tires are made from high-quality materials, such as natural rubber, steel, and fabric, which contribute to their high cost. The manufacturing process is also complex and involves multiple stages of testing and quality control. Additionally, airplane tires have a relatively short lifespan compared to other vehicle tires, and they need to be replaced frequently to maintain safety standards.

Airplane tires are significantly more expensive than tires for cars, motorcycles, or even large trucks. While a car tire might cost a few hundred dollars, an airplane tire can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. The price varies depending on the size and type of aircraft, but it’s not uncommon for a single airplane tire to be more valuable than its weight in gold.

Maintaining airplane tires is a critical aspect of aviation safety. They undergo significant wear and tear during take-off and landing, and regular inspections are necessary to identify any issues. Replacing these tires can be costly and time-consuming, as it often requires specialized equipment and trained personnel. Additionally, proper tire maintenance is crucial to extending their lifespan and ensuring the aircraft’s overall performance and safety.

The replacement schedule for airplane tires depends on various factors, including the type of aircraft, operating conditions, and maintenance practices. On average, they may last anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand landings, but this can vary significantly. Regular inspections help determine when a tire needs to be replaced, and airlines work closely with manufacturers and maintenance teams to ensure the tires are in optimal condition.

Airplane tires are fascinating and unique in many ways. Here are a few interesting facts: They are filled with nitrogen instead of air to maintain stability and reduce the risk of combustion. The tires can heat up significantly during landing, sometimes reaching temperatures of over 200 degrees Celsius. Airplane tires leave distinctive tread patterns on runways, which can be used to identify the type of aircraft that landed. They are so durable that they can survive impacts with birds, debris, and even small runway animals.