How Do The Brakes Of An Airplane Work? (III)

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Pablo Edronkin

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Reversers are installed in conjunction with jet engines and are used in many turboprops, turbojets and turbofans. Since these systems are heavy, it is possible to see some aircraft - particularly small - that don't carry them, but for the most part, airplanes equipped with some sort of turbine-based engines do use them.

In the case of turboprop engines, reversers actuate the propeller blades in such a way that they are aerodynamically reversed, and so, suddenly, instead of pulling the airplane they became back pushers. While in the case of planes equipped with turbofans and turbojets, reversers act by disrupting the outward flow of hot and cold gasses that come out of the exhaust.

Spoilers are also known as aerodynamic brakes; they look pretty similar to other aerodynamic control surfaces and in act, they can also be used to perform some manoeuvers such as turns in order to tighten the radius of the curve, by applying them differentially. In many civilian airplanes you will see the spoilers as small, rectangular shapes that appear on the extrados or top of the wing as the ship lands, and sometimes while in flight.

Spoilers act by creating more aerodynamic resistance to the advance of the plane, but more importantly in the case of those installed on top of a wing, they disrupt the kind of flow that produces lift. Thus, when an airplane lands and the spoilers are applied, the wing generates less lift more rapidly and gravity acts better on it and the plane stops sooner.

Combat airplanes sometimes carry other kinds of spoilers that are used for the most part, in order to give them a much better performance in dog fighting: The Sabre F-86 carried to very characteristic combat spoilers on each side of the fuselage, while planes like the F-15 and SU-27 have one large on the back of the cockpit.

During WWII dive bombers were still in use and one that was pretty characteristic of that conflict was the SBD Dauntless used by the U.S. Navy; this plane used something known as "Swiss cheese spoilers" or "Butterfly flaps", which in essence were a combination of both types of surface intended to perform the same functions. These butterfly flaps were filled with holes, so to speak, for aerodynamic reasons.

They could be used as regular flaps, opening to the bottom or intrados and rear of the wing in order to provide better lift at lower speeds, or they could be fully opened up and bottom like the wings of a butterfly; their holes gave them the Swiss cheese nickname. In full extension, they were used to slow down the dive as the crew aimed their bombs and cannons and give better controllability.


As you slightly increast the throttle power to start taxiing the first thing that you should do is to gently test the brakes; they should of course, work, but it is also important to see if the differential braking system deliver the same braking power on all axis of the landing gear.
As you slightly increast the throttle power to start taxiing the first thing that you should do is to gently test the brakes; they should of course, work, but it is also important to see if the differential braking system deliver the same braking power on all axis of the landing gear.



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