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How do you change a tire on an Airbus A330?
They weigh 220 kilograms and there's 10 of them on one plane. Roadside saviors -- you may need a bigger wrench
There are many things about air travel we take for granted: that drinking whiskey at 10 a.m. is OK; that moving your feet in small circles counts as “exercise.”
But some things are worth explaining.
Adam Nelson, manager line maintenance for Cathay Pacific Airways, told us how to change a tire on an Airbus A330.
While you may swap out that ragged piece of rubber on your Ford only when the rim starts squealing on the asphalt, with eight main wheels and two nose wheels, an A330 goes through 25 tire changes a year. That's 1,150 tire changes for Cathay’s A330 fleet each year.
A Boeing 747-400 is even needier. It has 16 main wheels and will get roughly 50 tire changes in a year.
It takes two aircraft mechanics 45 minutes to an hour to replace a tire on an A330, each of which weighs 220 kilograms, using a jack (two for the center wheel), a wheel dolly, a spanner and a wrench.
A tire is retreaded up to six times during its lifespan too, then finally replaced after 1,500 landings. The listed price for an A330 tire manufactured by Michelin is nearly US$7,000.
Click through the gallery for the seven steps to a tire change.
What else would you like to know about air travel? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to get the answers for you.