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The 3 Types Of Hydroplaning, And How To Prevent Them

Boldmethod

Spring is right around the corner, and that means you're going to start seeing wet runways again. Here are the three different ways you can go slipping down the runway, and how you can prevent each one.

1) Dynamic Hydroplaning

Dynamic hydroplaning happens when water lifts your wheels off the runway. This usually happens when a wedge of water builds up in front of your tires and lifts them off the runway. When it happens, you're literally riding on water. And that's not good, because you don't have traction or braking.

How To Prevent Dynamic Hydroplaning

  • Don't land fast on a wet runway. Dynamic hydroplaning happens at about 8.6 times the square root of your tire pressure. For a Cessna 172 with 42 PSI tires, that's about 56 knots.
  • Keep your tires inflated. Under-inflated tires hydroplane easier than properly inflated ones.
  • Use back pressure and aerodynamic braking to slow down. The more weight you have on your tires, the better.


2) Reverted Rubber Hydroplaning

Reverted rubber hydroplaning happens when your tires lock up, the rubber begins to melt, and trapped water under the tire turns into steam. When it happens, you're riding on steam, and melting your tires in the process.

How To Prevent Reverted Rubber Hydroplaning

  • Use light brake pressure, and use aerodynamic braking to keep maximum weight on your landing gear.
  • Use light brake pressure, and never lock up your brakes on landing.


3) Viscous Hydroplaning

When oil or accumulated rubber combines with water on a runway, it can form an impenetrable layer of liquid your tires can't break through. This is especially problematic on smooth asphalt runways.

How To Prevent Viscous Hydroplaning

  • Land on a grooved runway, if possible.
  • Don't land fast.
  • Keep your tires inflated. Under-inflated tires hydroplane easier than properly inflated ones.
  • Use back pressure and aerodynamic braking to slow down, and use light brake pressure.

Keep It On The Runway

Use these anti-hydroplaning techniques the next time you're landing in the rain, and you'll handle any wet runway like a pro.

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at colin@boldmethod.com.

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