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For release: Oct. 20, 1995

Mark Chambers
Phone: 804-864-3728

Keith Henry
Phone: 804-864-6120


NASA Tests Advanced Radial Tires For Large Airliners

NASA is working with the Michelin Aircraft Tire Corp., Charlotte, N.C., to document the durability of advanced radial tires designed for use on new jumbo jets and the envisioned supersonic high-speed civil transport.

Radial tires have proven to be lightweight, produce less drag and generate less heat than conventional bias tires in 5 years of smaller aircraft use in this country and 10 years of use in European countries.

The successful tests are expected to speed up the process of certification by the FAA, according to NASA project engineer Bob Daugherty. "The fuel costs and savings produced are just phenomenal," he said. The tires are the largest in commercial use and similar to the main gear tires being considered by Boeing for its new wide-bodied transport, the "777."

The tests, just concluded, were performed at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., using the center’s unique aircraft landing dynamics facility. Langley is recognized for its highly successful space shuttle orbiter tire durability research.

The Langley-Michelin partnership is being supported by a Space Act Agreement. "This is a perfect example of a U.S. industry, the aircraft tire industry, benefiting from NASA invested capital and helping keep our country ahead of the competition," said Daugherty.

The advanced radial tire tests were designed to define the mechanical properties of the tires at various loads. Slow speed tests were performed using a carriage testbed equipped with a test tire.

In addition, tire relaxation lengths and side forces were measured on a "frictionless" test platform positioned at the end of a simulated steel runway in the carriage hangar.

The test platform rotates and can be pulled sideways, pulling the test tire with it. The specially designed equipment is capable of pulling up to 80,000 pounds of side load.

"This was a big challenge. It took about 6 months to come up with the side loading system, but it worked extremely well," said Daugherty.

Follow-on tests next spring, unrelated to the Michelin agreement, may make use of the Langley facility’s outdoor test track where aircraft landings can be simulated at actual landing speeds using a railed carriage that drops the test tire onto a simulated runway.

Meanwhile, Michelin and Langley are exploring the possibllity of further joint work on advanced radial tires.

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