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6 Braking Tips For Every Landing

This story was made in partnership with LIFT Academy. Check out the full series here. Want to be a pilot? Get started with LIFT Academy here.

Give your brakes a break!

1) Plan Braking For Your Desired Exit

This may sound self-explanatory, but never brake too much or too little for your runway exit. If your turnoff isn't for a few thousand feet, there's no reason to apply maximum braking and force airplanes to go-around as you slowly taxi down the runway.

The opposite holds true for a short field or immediate turnoff. Apply smooth, constant brake pressure and never take a turn too fast.


2) Don't Keep Your Toes On The Brakes Before Touchdown

Any brake pressure prior to touchdown puts you at risk for blowing a tire. With no free movement your wheels will skid, and at a minimum, you'll be replacing tires when you get back to the hangar.

Corey Komarec

3) Locked Tires + Wet Runway = 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.

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

4) Most Jets Have Anti-Lock Braking Systems, Just Like Your Car

The anti-skid system releases pressure on the brakes when it senses the wheels are starting to skid. When they spin up again, it re-applies brake pressure. This release and re-application of brake pressure happens very quickly, much like what happens with your car's anti-lock brake system.

If you feel the anti-skid system kicking in, let it do its job. Don't release full brake pressure if you need to stop.

5) Flying A Trailing-Link Gear? Avoid Early Braking

Trailing-link gear are designed with a flexible, L-Shaped arm and pivot point, connected to an oleo strut shock absorber. As the oleo strut compresses, the L-shaped bracket functions as an extra shock absorber, moving the tire back to upward. This helps smooths rough impacts with the runway.

As the oleo strut compresses, the L-shaped bracket functions as an extra shock absorber, moving the tire back to upward. This helps smooths rough impacts with the runway. Because full weight isn't initially applied on the wheels, avoid substantial braking until the airplane "settles" or you'll risk shredding the tires as they lightly skim the ground in a locked state.

6) Short Field Landing? Use Full Aerodynamic Braking

Once you touchdown, you want to use maximum aerodynamic braking. After you touch down, slowly start pulling back on the yoke, being careful not to lift back off. As you increase your aerodynamic braking, you keep more weight on your main gear. That, in turn, makes your brakes more effective, because you can apply more brake pressure before your wheels lock up.

Be gentle as you apply the brakes, then start increasing braking pressure to slow down. It's easy to lock up your wheels when your ground speed is still high, and you're wings are producing a lot of lift. Keep pressure on the brakes until you know you're slow enough to make your taxi turnoff, then gently start to let up on the brakes. Smooth application of your brakes is the key to a good landing rollout.


Thinking about becoming a pilot? Get started with Lift Academy, and find out what it takes to start your aviation career here.

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