When we think of aircraft functionality, we tend to forgo the importance of the wheels and brakes. Although the main functionality of aircraft is to fly, wheels and brakes are what enable the aircraft to both start movement, and safely land at their various destinations. They are expensive and important components, and often are subjected to great deterioration with every flight. With wear and tear of any aerospace part comes the need for maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO).
Wheels and brakes find the need for MRO services once the tire tread or brake friction becomes worn to limit. These components have the ability to be replaced a certain number of times before they should undergo full overhaul for safety. Intervals are set to limit the amount of changes that a tire can undergo before a full overhaul is required, and brakes follow a similar schedule. Despite these guidelines, many operators neglect overhaul and stick to simply changing their tires, often leading to great corrosion that can cause the unit to become irreplaceable. Overhaul is important as corrosion is a major problem with environmental extremes that parts are subjected to during constant use.
Contrary to popular belief, it is the sharp turns during operation that wear a tire and brake system more than the aircraft landing process. Factors that also decrease the life expectancy of tires and brakes include increase of flights during the summer and thus hot conditions and runways, as well as compact inner city airports. Improvements and breakthroughs of tire and brake technology on newer aircraft are helping to steadily increase life expectancy. Nevertheless, legacy aircraft with unchanged technology have long lifespans and continue to have great wear and tear with their continued use.
Independent MRO services are quickly growing as a competitor to original equipment manufacturers around the world, especially for smaller airlines and those that operate with mixed wheel and brakes. With these airlines, independent MRO serve a better opportunity for servicing their fleets and operations. Nevertheless, with each flight, aircraft come closer and closer to the need for servicing.
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