How the Aircraft Braking System Works

When an aircraft prepares to begin its descent into an airport or runway, various systems and components must be utilized during the process to sufficiently reduce airspeed to a safe value for landing. On modern aircraft of differing sizes and types, there are a variety of methods in which an aircraft can brake and slow down speed, ranging from flight surfaces to disc brake assemblies. In this blog, we will discuss how the airplane braking system operates, as well as provide information on how the various components and systems work together to reduce speed.

Spoilers and speed brakes are flight control surfaces that are deployed during the descent process, and they both affect the aerodynamics of the aircraft to reduce airspeed and descend. With the aircraft speed brake, drag and the angle of approach is increased, causing a reduction in airspeed. Speed brakes are typically actuated through hydraulicalic means, and the pilot may govern the controls during the descent process. Spoilers, on the other hand, reduce lift on the aircraft rather than slowing the aircraft. Spoilers are plates that are often installed to the upper surface of aircraft wings, and they can be extended into the flow of air to cause a stall and decrease the amount of lift that is being generated. While descent can also be achieved through a lower angle of attack, utilizing spoilers does not increase airspeed and thus is a safer method for landing.

Once the aircraft reaches the runway of an airport or landing area, the pilot can then utilize the aircraft brakes to further the reduction of speed on the ground. The braking system typically consists of brake pads and disc brake components, each providing friction on the wheels to cause the aircraft to slow down. Braking systems may be mechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic, though they all often produce the same method of braking through the clamping of brake pads. Alongside utilizing disc brake systems, aircraft will also continue to use their flight surfaces to increase drag.

For additional power for stopping an aircraft, or if the runway is icy or snowy, thrust reverser systems may also be utilized. When the aircraft has successfully touched down on the runway, pilots can direct the thrust reverser to change the direction of exhaust gases that are being produced by the running engine. By pointing the exhaust forwards, propulsion is created in the opposite direction, causing the velocity of the aircraft to decrease. Thrust reversers are critical for snowy and icy conditions, as frozen liquids can reduce the amount of friction provided by wheels, making landing less efficient or possibly dangerous without other methods in place.

While early aircraft had a limited number of methods to safely brake during the landing procedure, the debut of modern technologies such as disc brakes, thrust reversers, and aircraft flight surfaces have revolutionized the civil and defense aviation industries. As technology continues to develop, these components are also constantly advancing to have longer service lives and more reliable functionality to benefit operators. Depending on the size and type of your aircraft, a number of braking systems and flight surfaces may be utilized in order to safely come to a landing after a flight operation. At Fulfillment 3Sixty, we can provide you with premium aircraft parts such as airbrake cable components, airbrake bracket parts, brake pads, and disc brake components. Fulfillment 3Sixty is a premier online distributor of aircraft parts, offering customers rapid lead-times and competitive pricing on over 2 billion new, used, and obsolete components. Get started on the purchasing process today by filling out and submitting an Instant RFQ form and receive a personalized quote in 15 minutes or less.


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March 11, 2021

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