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Piaggio and Parker combine to design wheels of steel
Operators have regularly been asking Piaggio to come up with a wheel and brake design that is less expensive to acquire and overhaul. The Italian OEM has joined forces with Parker Aerospace to produce a steel variant.

Piaggio Aerospace has teamed with Parker Aerospace to develop a steel variant of the carbon brakes currently installed in the worldwide fleet of P180s. Coming in response to operator requests, the steel brakes have been designed to maintain the performance of the aircraft while offering lower acquisition and overhaul costs. An STC for the upgrade was approved in late February by EASA and Transport Canada.

Following a rigorous series of TSO qualification tests conducted in Parker's aircraft wheel and brake division laboratory in Avon, Ohio, the wheels and brakes were installed on an Avanti II equipped with Magnaghi (EVO) landing gear, and on one equipped with the Safran landing gear, to verify physical fit and the retraction and extension sequence.

In the presence of an FAA test pilot, flight tests followed at Lakeland International airport in Florida, where repeated runs were performed to gather the necessary data to validate the take-off accelerate-stop distance, and the landing distance to a stop from 50 ft. The tests were conducted at the MTOW and maximum landing weight, without the use of reverse thrust. All tests showed figures equal or better than those of the basic airplane flight manual, therefore amended charts are not required by the STC.

The wheels and brakes are directly interchangeable with the part numbers currently approved on the original Safran or EVO landing gear, without any aircraft alterations. They must be installed in pairs, they will be ‘on condition’, and the overhaul cost is expected to be approximately 70 per cent less than that of the current carbon version.

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