For pilots, the phrase “kick the tires, and light the fires” is a familiar one. It refers to the important task of checking your aircraft’s tires before you fly. Although some may revert to a cursory kick, as the phrase states, fulfilling this critical preflight check involves much more than a perfunctory punt of your tires.
In a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) issued on June 12, 2009, FAA emphasizes the important task of checking tire pressure, specifically cold tire pressure, at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. Although the SAFO was based on a Learjet Model 60 accident (which may have been caused by low tire pressure), it underscores the importance of knowing how dangerous an under or over-inflated tire can be. Over-inflation causes uneven tread wear, reduces traction, and makes the treads more susceptible to cutting. Under-inflated tires can stress the sidewalls, cause heat build-up, and can ultimately lead to a blowout. Be sure to look for these telltale signs of improper inflation, and know your aircraft’s recommended tire pressure. If in doubt, consult an aviation maintenance technician. To view a complete list of SAFOs, go to http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviation_industry/airline_operators/airline_safety/safo/all_safos/