Hard landing can be challenging for passengers, cargo and the aircraft itself. Aviation security practice requires airlines to inspect the chassis before returning the aircraft to service. ATR, an Airbus-Leonardo joint venture that makes turboprop aircraft, says it has developed an AI that can significantly speed up the verification process and save airlines money.
Uneven landings usually occur when an aircraft is descending at a speed greater than the optimal 2 or 3 feet per second. The idea is to gradually lower the plane without letting it float. Pilot error can cause “difficult landings,” but pilots often make them on purpose because of wet weather, gusts of wind, or short or busy runways. Pilots prefer to call these landings “solid”.
Jumping on the asphalt with great force causes a structural load on the chassis components, so manufacturers are encouraged to conduct further inspections. But determining what constitutes a solid landing and when an aircraft inspection is required is not easy.
Boeing says the acceleration recorded on the flight data recorders is an inaccurate indicator of hard landing and that the use of accelerometers to measure G forces is unreliable and impractical.
“Boeing believes the pilot’s decision and landing description reports remain the best source of information to determine if a hard landing has taken place. Pilots usually land the aircraft well within acceptable limits and get used to the feeling … The flight of the aircraft and cabin crew usually report a hard landing when the dive speed is approaching 4 feet per second. All Boeing aircraft models were designed for a dive speed of 10 feet per second at maximum landing weight developed and six feet per second at maximum takeoff weight. These values are taken into account when designing the main and nose chassis, as well as the supporting structure of the wing and fuselage. said in an explanation on the technical website of the Boeing 737.
The rigid fit inspection includes a close visual inspection of the various structural components to determine if additional inspections are required. One possible sign of damage is a leak of hydraulic fluid from the shock absorber. The second check may include removing the chassis parts.
ATR, together with aerospace equipment maker Safran, said last week that they had developed Smart Lander, a chassis diagnostic service that uses sophisticated data analysis to more quickly determine safety. The service relies on machine learning technology based on hundreds of thousands of rigid landing simulations to issue recommendations for maintenance operations depending on the hardness of the landing and the level of load the chassis can withstand.
Smart Lander helps operators determine if the aircraft can be allowed to continue commercial operations or need to be sent to a maintenance base. The process takes less than an hour, up from more than a week earlier, ATR said.
“Our previous process could take 10 to 20 working days. It took analysis from both ATR and Safran Landing Systems to decide whether the aircraft could be returned to service, ”said David Brigante, senior vice president of customer support and ATR, in a press release. “With Smart Lander, we will be able to significantly reduce response time, thus increase aircraft availability, reduce customer costs and increase customer satisfaction while maintaining the same level of analysis quality.”
Last month, the Air Transport Services Group in Wilmington, Ohio, selected Safran Landing Systems to upgrade more than 30 Boeing 767 cargo planes operated by its subsidiary cargo airlines. Safran’s transition to wheels and carbon brakes allows ATSG to work with the overall configuration of wheels and brakes in its operating fleet of cargo planes with carbon brakes that are lighter than other types of brakes.