Aircraft Landing Gear Systems | Aircraft Systems

Aircraft Landing Gear Systems

The landing gear is an essential system that allows the aircraft to start from the gate, taxi to the runway, to take off and to land safely. Aircraft landing gear supports the entire weight of an aircraft during landing and ground operations. They are attached to primary structural members of the aircraft.

The type of gear depends on the aircraft design and its intended use. Most landing gear have wheels to facilitate operation to and from hard surfaces, such as airport runways. Other gear feature skids for this purpose, such as those found on helicopters, balloon gondolas, and in the tail area of some tail dragger aircraft. Aircraft that operate to and from frozen lakes and snowy areas may be equipped with landing gear that have skis. Aircraft that operate to and from the surface of water have pontoon-type landing gear. Regardless of the type of landing gear utilized, shock absorbing equipment, brakes, retraction mechanisms, controls, warning devices, cowling, fairings, and structural members necessary to attach the gear to the aircraft are considered parts of the landing gear system.

Numerous configurations of landing gear types can be found. Additionally, combinations of two types of gear are common. Amphibious aircraft are designed with gear that allow landings to be made on water or dry land. The gear features pontoons for water landing with extendable wheels for landings on hard surfaces. A similar system is used to allow the use of skis and wheels on aircraft that operate on both slippery, frozen surfaces and dry runways. Typically, the skis are retractable to allow use of the wheels when needed.

NOTE: References to auxiliary landing gear refer to the nose gear, tail gear, or outrigger-type gear on any particular aircraft. Main landing gear are the two or more large gear located close to the aircraft’s center of gravity.