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Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

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Jun 14, 2018

Dynamic Hydroplaning: Water on the runways reduces the friction between the tires and the ground and can reduce braking effectiveness. The ability to brake can be completely lost when the tires are hydroplaning because a layer of water separates the tires from the runway surface. This is also true of braking effectiveness when runways are covered in ice. When the runway is wet, the pilot may be confronted with dynamic hydroplaning. Dynamic hydroplaning is a condition in which the aircraft tires ride on a thin sheet of water rather than on the runway’s surface. Because hydroplaning wheels are not touching the runway, braking and directional control are almost nil. To help minimize dynamic hydroplaning, some runways are grooved to help drain off water; most runways are not.

Tire pressure is a factor in dynamic hydroplaning. Using the simple formula of 8.6 times the square root of the tire pressure in p.s.i., a pilot can calculate the minimum speed, in knots, at which hydroplaning begins. In plain language, the minimum hydroplaning speed is determined by multiplying the square root of the main gear tire pressure in psi by nine. For example, if the main gear tire pressure is at 36 psi, the aircraft would begin hydroplaning at 54 knots. Landing at higher than recommended touchdown speeds exposes the aircraft to a greater potential for hydroplaning. And once hydroplaning starts, it can continue well below the minimum initial hydroplaning speed. On wet runways, directional control can be maximized by landing into the wind. Abrupt control inputs should be avoided. When the runway is wet, anticipate braking problems well before landing and be prepared for hydroplaning. Opt for a suitable runway most aligned with the wind. Mechanical braking may be ineffective, so aerodynamic braking should be used to its fullest advantage.

Viscous Hydroplaning: Slippery surfaces can cause tires to slip. One of the most common factors is rubber build-up on the runway, generally in the touchdown zone.

From Wikipedia: Viscous aquaplaning is due to the viscous properties of water. A thin film of fluid no more than 0.025 mm in depth is all that is needed. The tire cannot penetrate the fluid and the tire rolls on top of the film. This can occur at a much lower speed than dynamic aquaplane, but requires a smooth or smooth-acting surface such as asphalt or a touchdown area coated with the accumulated rubber of past landings. Such a surface can have the same friction coefficient as wet ice.

From Wikipedia:

Reverted Rubber Hydroplaning:

Reverted rubber (steam) aquaplaning occurs during heavy braking that results in a prolonged locked-wheel skid. Only a thin film of water on the runway is required to facilitate this type of aquaplaning. The tire skidding generates enough heat to change the water film into a cushion of steam which keeps the tire off the runway. A side effect of the heat is it causes the rubber in contact with the runway to revert to its original uncured state. Indications of an aircraft having experienced reverted rubber aquaplaning, are distinctive 'steam-cleaned' marks on the runway surface and a patch of reverted rubber on the tire.

Reverted rubber aquaplaning frequently follows an encounter with dynamic aquaplaning, during which time the pilot may have the brakes locked in an attempt to slow the aircraft. Eventually the aircraft slows enough to where the tires make contact with the runway surface and the aircraft begins to skid. The remedy for this type of aquaplane is for the pilot to release the brakes and allow the wheels to spin up and apply moderate braking. Reverted rubber aquaplaning is insidious in that the pilot may not know when it begins, and it can persist to very slow groundspeeds (20 knots or less).

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