C-17s Testing Tires That Can Be Retreaded

With budgets getting tighter, the Air Force is seeking to adopt a cost-saving practice the trucking industry has used for decades, putting new treads on worn out tires instead of throwing them away. To advance that effort, the C-17 Global Reach Integrated Test Team at Edwards AFB, Calif., has been putting new Dunlop tires through rigorous testing to ensure they are able to handle the widely varying runway surfaces, weather conditions, and operational considerations the Globemaster IIIs will face. “While structural integrity and load capability are tested in a laboratory, parameters such as wet-runway stopping distance and minimum aircraft turning radius have to be tested in the real world with a wet runway,” said Michael Quinton, 773rd Test Squadron project engineer, a release. The Dunlop tires are intended to replace the Michelin tires that have been used on C-17s. The key difference is that the Dunlops incorporate tighter geometric tolerances designed to facilitate retreading. “No performance increases to the aircraft are expected as a result of the new tires, but increased number of retreads to a single tire casing and corresponding cost savings are anticipated,” Quinton said.