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As the Wrench Turns


David Vital, Director of Maintenance


Happy New Year WVFC!!! I hope everyone had a great and safe holiday season. This month we will talk a little bit about tires and their importance.

As student pilots, we are taught by the club to check the tires for condition and inflation before each takeoff.  But as we progressed in our flying careers, some of us have taken tires for granted. Sure, we’re careful to check the “important” stuff—engine oil, fuel, headset batteries and radios—but we keep tires on a second-class status, merely glancing at them to make sure that they’re all accounted for and aren’t flat.

Continuing this bad habit, however, does have serious consequences. So perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics and take a look at tires in a whole different light because, in the whole scheme of things, they’re just as important as the rest of the components of an airplane.

For most of their lives, airplane tires don’t do much except keep the metal parts of the airplane off the ground. For long and short periods, though, they work hard—especially during taxi, takeoff and landing. As airplanes get heavier, the margin in the tire loading goes down; as airplanes go faster, the margins become even thinner. With a high-performance airplane, the tires aren’t underutilized; in fact, they’re at their optimal design point—neither too large nor too heavy—for their intended task. That means that the tires need to be kept in excellent condition, and one way to assure that is to check the inflation, which, according to industry experts, is the single, most important parameter of a tire’s life, load, maintenance and safety.

Properly inflated tires, in good condition, put less stress on the rest of the airframe, and maintaining all tires at the right pressure will minimize asymmetric brake and steering action, giving you a better feel for the airplane and better ground-handling skills—all while extending the service life of your gear and airframe, and increasing tire life.

Although it’s ultimately up to all of us when it comes to checking tires, don’t blame anyone for pressure loss. There are several reasons for this problem to occur. The casing itself, for example, is slightly porous, and there’s an intentional vent in the tire body itself. There also may be a safety plug in the wheel that leaks a bit, and the O-ring in the wheel may leak some. The bead may leak, too. Even the weather makes a difference. A five-degree F drop in temperature, for example, can account for a 1% loss of air pressure. Just remember that tires lose pressure. That’s their nature. But it’s our obligation to keep them full. So don’t take your tires for granted, and check the condition and pressure as often as possible.

Reminder the MX Pizza party will be held on Jan 25th at 12:00 pm in the hanger. We will have a couple of planes open for you to look at. Along with the planes open the Maintenance staff members will be present to answer your questions. We hope to see you in the hanger on the 25th.