U.S. Navy C-130s Get New Wheels, Carbon Brakes to Last for 2,000 Landings

When thinking about airplanes, one tends to imagine only the air prowess of these machines, their speeds and other flight capabilities. But what happens to a plane while on the ground is equally, if not more important than what happens while in the air.
U.S. Navy C-130 5 photos
Photo: U.S. Navy
One of the most important pieces of hardware of any plane is the wheel assembly. It allows the winged machine to reach take-off speed, and also land safely after time spent in the air. For all intents and purposes, wheels, and by extension the braking system that comes with them, are subjected to a great amount of stress during these operations.

That’s probably even more true when talking about the C-130, the Lockheed airplane that has been in various configurations a constant presence in the sky for military and aid missions for more than half a century now.

There are about 3,000 of them navigating the clouds all over the world, and about half of them use wheels and brakes supplied by Collins Aerospace. The company took earlier this month another step in ensuring safe landings for the heavy-lifters by announcing the first upgrade for the C-130T and KC-130T aircraft operated by the U.S. Navy.

More to the point, the airplanes started being fitted with new, boltless wheels in a lock-ring design that have a higher fatigue life. Additionally, brakes made of carbon heat sink material (called Duracarb) have also been installed.

The new assembly contains according to Collins 17 percent fewer parts than the existing system and, more importantly, will allow eight times the number of landings the previous system was capable of withstanding – 2,000 landings compared to just 250.

The company did not say how many of the American military’s C-130 will be upgraded with these new pieces of hardware. Separately, Collins provides wheels and brakes for the U.S. Air Force’s F-15, F-16, C-5, and Global Hawk aircraft as well.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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