The Various Types of Landing Gear Equipment
Whether for landing or for traversing across a runway, aircraft of all types rely on their landing gear equipment to carry out most ground-based operations. Due to the impact forces of landing and the gear’s role in supporting the load of the aircraft, various landing gear types may be used to accommodate aircraft and ensure their safety and integrity. In this blog, we will discuss the most common types of landing gear equipment featured across aircraft, allowing you to become more familiar with such assemblies.
Attached to the primary structural components of the aircraft, landing gear may come in a variety of types to accommodate the size, weight, application, and other characteristics of a given model. While a number of fixed-wing planes and rotorcraft may feature either skids or floats to cater to more diverse landing locations, a majority of aircraft utilize wheels to traverse the hard surfaces of runways. For wheel-based landing gear systems, the most common configurations that are seen across all aircraft models include the tailwheel-type, tandem, and tricycle-type landing gear systems.
The tailwheel-type system, also referred to as conventional gear, is the configuration most widely seen on early aircraft models. In such an arrangement, the main gear is placed ahead of the center of gravity, resulting in the need for a third wheel placed at the tail end of the aircraft. With the orientation of the aircraft as a result of wheel placement, tailwheel landing gear helps reduce the speed of a landing aircraft and can promote directional stability. With the addition of longer propellers, aircraft with underpowered engines can still take off with ease as well due to the fuselage angle. As tailwheel-type engines can give aircraft an advantage on non-paved runways as well, they are still popularly implemented on many modern models.
Tandem landing gear refers to equipment that have a main gear and tail gear that are both aligned along the aircraft’s longitudinal axis. Although such landing gear configurations are less common as compared to the other types, tandem landing gear can be found on many sailplanes, a few military bombers, and select VTOLs and spy plane models. As the tandem landing gear configuration has its gear only located under the fuselage of the aircraft, such models can take advantage of more flexible wings.
Tricycle-type landing gear is the final major type for aircraft, and it serves as the most commonly used arrangement for both large and small models. With tricycle-type landing gear, braking power is often increased due to the configuration of the aircraft that prevents it from nosing over. As such, aircraft with tricycle-type landing gear can land at higher speeds. During takeoff and landing procedures, pilots will also often be able to see much better from the flight deck due to the orientation of the fuselage. This angle of the aircraft prevents ground-looping as well, as the center of gravity is beyond the main gear which causes the aircraft to move forward.
On most aircraft with tricycle-type landing gear, the nose gear is rarely uncontrollable as steering control may be achieved through differential braking during taxi procedures. Furthermore, most aircraft in general will provide the pilot with steering control of the nose gear in some fashion. For many light aircraft, control over the nose gear often comes in the form of mechanical linkages hooked to rudder pedals within the flight deck. With heavier aircraft, hydraulic power may be used to steer nose gear, and an independent tiller provides control.
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