Incident: British Airways A380 G-XLEB enroute on May 5th 2016, the square tyre.
A British Airways Airbus A380-800, registration G-XLEB performing flight BA-32 from Hong Kong (China) to London Heathrow, EN (UK), was climbing out of Hong Kong close to reaching the top of climb when the crew received a tyre pressure indication. The crew decided to continue the flight to London and requested a tow tug to be available for landing in case the aircraft would not be able to taxi on its own. The aircraft landed safely on Heathrow’s runway 09L and taxied to the gate.
The aft right outboard body tyre caused a lot of head scratching trying to explain how the stunning square shape of the damaged tyre came together.
(the original of the photo does not exhibit any indication of photoshopping).
‘It is a bit mysterious…, an interesting phenomenon.’
'The deflated tyre would have been round when the aircraft touched down, it would not have rotated on four square edges as the picture would have us believe. The round wheel would have rotated on the flat ground, with the deflated tyre wobbling around the wheel.’
'The tyre has taken this shape after the aircraft came to a halt.’
'The aircraft weight is on the wheel - made from a well-designed light but strong aluminium alloy. You can see that the wheel is not damaged at all, as it is designed to take this weight.’
'The effect of the weight on the deflated tyre is the same as when you squeeze a rubber ring toy with different intensity, it can turn into a different shape.’
'In an A380, for this particular situation, it happens to be squarish. In a 747, for instance, the load of the aircraft does not give rise to this particular shape.’
'The reason for the deflation could have been overheating brakes over-pressurising the tyre and making it burst - though that’s unlikely as the pilots receive a warning if the brakes are too hot - or a foreign object on the runway at Hong Kong cutting into the tyre. In all these cases pilots are well trained to handle the situation safely.’
The aircraft was never in danger.
'To lose one [wheel] is no big deal.’
A spokesperson for British Airways said: 'Our flight landed normally last Friday with one of its 22 tyres deflated. The A380, in common with other large commercial aircraft, is designed to be perfectly safe when landing with a deflated tyre. Our engineers quickly changed the tyre and the aircraft went back into service.’