AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

How Many Wheels Are There on an Airplane?

While only used for a fraction of time during flight, an airplane’s landing gear often endures the harshest treatment of any equipment on board. The wheels not only support the full weight of a plane’s payload, but they must also be equipped to handle sudden contact with the runway during touchdown, as well as aggressive stops at high speeds. Coupled together, these factors expose the wheels to high heat and stress that wears them out over time. As such, extensive engineering has been put into determining how many wheels are adequate to effectively support the aircraft while reducing its overall weight. You may ask yourself, “How do manufacturers determine the number of wheels an aircraft needs? This article will answer this question by providing a short guide for understanding landing gear wheels.

How Is the Number of Wheels Decided?

As with the rest of landing gear, the size and makeup of the wheels is determined by the vessel's maximum gross weight. Airplane wheels must support the full weight of the plane while it is stationary and distribute its weight evenly when the wheels touch down during landing. Otherwise, the runway could become damaged if forced to handle a concentrated amount of weight at a high speed.

With these factors in mind, most commercial, transport-category airplanes have two wheels within the nose gear assembly, and each main gear assembly may carry up to two wheels as well. Altogether, that makes for six wheels on an average passenger plane. However, larger planes require more wheels, such as the Boeing 747 which contains eighteen. Often dubbed the most popular plane in history, this enormous plane has four main landing gear assemblies containing four tires, and a single nose-gear assembly that only has two. Conversely, on light aircraft, there are only three wheels in tota, one of which is situated on the nose gear and two located under the main body.

What Are Airplane Wheels Made Of?

Airplane wheels are typically made of conductive rubber to absorb any electricity generated by friction between the tire and runway. Rubber is also favored because flexibility is an important element that enables the tires to handle a great deal of vibration and shock. For this reason, Kevlar, a strong, lightweight, and heat-resistant plastic, can be commonly found in transport category airplane wheels as well.

In general, most tires are made of three rubber layers, each laid in a different direction to strengthen the tires and increase their traction. The wheels also have a layer of aluminum steel reinforcements to keep the tires from losing tread or coming apart during landing. Additionally, there are often conducting stops built into the grooves of the airplane tires to further dissipate built-up electric charges and avoid causing sparks. Finally, the tires are often filled with non-flammable nitrogen gas to eliminate the corrosion of assembled metal parts and rubber comprising the landing gear.


Airplane tires are key components that are built to withstand huge amounts of heat, pressure, and friction before needing to be replaced. Aviation-grade landing gear is therefore manufactured according to a very high standard and is designed to keep passengers and cargo safe. If you are an aircraft owner or operator looking to procure dependable landing gear or other components for your applications, Logistics 3Sixty has you covered. With an inventory of products that have been sourced from trusted manufacturers on our Approved Vendor List (AVL), you never need to worry about the high quality of our offerings. Kickoff the procurement process with us today when you explore our online catalog of available parts. With representatives available around the clock, we guarantee quick and responsive services to meet all your deadlines and requirements.


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