Air Transport World

B.F. Goodrich builds new plant for aircraft tire production; ne management expects company to produce 900,000 lbs. of tire products per month, including the Advanced Aerospace Tire, and employ 300. (B.F. Goodrich Co.)

BFGoodrich builds new plant for aircraft tire production

Here in the heart of the state where powered flight became a reality in 1903, BFGoodrich (BFG) has invested $30 million in a new plant devoted exclusively to the manufacture of aircraft tires. Some 300 models in all, including the Advanced Aerospace Tire (AAT), are produced here.

Aircraft tires have never been the most glamorous things in the air. This is even truer in these days of the glass cockpit, fly-by-wire, ultra-high bypass engines and exotic composite structural materials. But when an airline says it will gain at least a million dollars a year by switching to a new, lighter tire for part of its fleet, that gets to be pretty glamorous.

The carrier is United Airlines. The tire is BFG's AAT. By installing the AAT on the 11 Boeing 747SPs flying its trans-Pacific routes, United has shaved 1,152 lbs. of deadweight off each plane. So what's the big deal if you save about half a ton on a 150-ton-empty-weight airplane? The big deal is that, aside from the resulting fuel savings, United's flights on these long routes are often weight-limited. When this is the case, the lighter tires enable the planes to carry two or three more passengers or an equivalent weight in extra cargo, which means more money in the till. Alternatively, the saved weight permits extra fuel to be carried, extending the aircraft's range, compensating for headwinds and terminal area delays, etc.

The $1 million figure is based on the assumption that 10% of the flights will be weight-limited. However, says United Staff Engineer Bill Witt, the actual percentage has been running higher and the savings should therefore also be higher.

The AAT was developed specifically for the NASA shuttle where weight is a major consideration, and is also used on some military aircraft for the same reason. It is a bias-ply design that carries less rubber than conventional bias-ply tires but uses stronger nylon cord in the carcass and incorporates other internal design changes. …

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