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How Trailing-Link Gear Helps Pilots Make Smoother Landings

We've all had a few hard landings. Here's how trailing-link gear helps make them smoother...

Remember Your Hardest Landing?

When was the last time you had a hard landing?

Landing gear struts go through immense stress over their life cycle. Think about how tough these systems have to be. They take airplanes weighing hundreds of thousands of pound from a hard touchdown at well over 100 knots, to taxi speed in just a few thousand feet.

Even the toughest landing gear can't absorb the full impact of a botched flare. That's where you come in. It's your job to reduce your aircraft's vertical descent rate just before touchdown to make a smooth touchdown, and to nail your landing point without floating down the runway.

Trailing-Link: Designed To Absorb Hard Landings

A traditional landing gear is designed around a single strut equipped with a built-in shock absorber and wheels at the bottom. Most airplanes are built with this simple, ageless design. With landing gear designed this way, the smoothness of the landing relies heavily on you.

Trailing-link gear, on the other hand, are designed with a flexible, L-Shaped arm and pivot point, connected to an oleo strut shock absorber.

The oleo strut is an air-oil shock absorber that cushions landings and reduces vertical oscillations. As the strut compresses, so does the air. The viscous oil dampens the rebounding tendency and overall compression.

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.

In-flight, the landing gear hangs low, nearly straight down. During touchdown, the gear swings backward and the angular shock absorber begins to do its part. As lift diminishes and the airplane settles onto the runway, the oleo strut compresses until the full weight of the airplane is on the gear.

Trailing-link gear have a maintenance advantage too. Because the oleo strut is separate of the L-Shaped arm, it's relatively easy for maintenance to service the shock absorber, compared to traditional landing gear.

Trailing Link: Installed On A Wide Range Of Aircraft

You can find trailing-link gear installed on a wide range of aircraft, including:

  • Embraer EMB-135/145
  • Pilatus PC12
  • Bombardier CRJ-200
  • Cessna 421C Golden Eagle
  • Cirrus Vision Jet

Check out the video below of an Embraer 135 landing and watch how the landing gear compresses during touchdown...

Downfalls Of Trailing-Link Gear

If trailing link gear are so great, why aren't they installed on all aircraft?

Trailing-link gear are heavier and more complex than traditional landing gear struts. The heavier the airplane, the more robust the trailing link gear becomes.

On top of that, the trailing-link system can complicate the gear retraction process.

Have you ever flown an airplane with trailing-link gear? Tell us what you thought about them in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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