Anecdotally I have heard of various things that I can do to make steel brakes last longer before they have to be replaced, and they make sense but how much does it really help?

Things that I have heard:

  • Land at the minimum recommend speed
  • Use maximum reverse thrust (if you have it)
  • Delay braking after landing (if on a sufficiently long runway) to allow slowing before brake application
  • Various taxi techniques (taxi on one engine, don't ride the brakes, but instead build up speed and then brake to slow down. Rinse and repeat.)

Are there any studies that have been done to show how much these things help and whether or not it makes a measurable difference?

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    Surely it's going to come down to using them less. It would be interesting to find a study on taxi techniques and such. It would seem common sense that allowing the airplane to slow on it's own would reduce wear on the brakes although I do also wonder if it is better to use the brakes all at once or to draw it out over a longer interval(s). I'm sure temperature is huge factor in wear and effectiveness of braking. – p1l0t Jan 19 '14 at 19:42
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    @p1l0t I'm sure as well that they will all help. I'm just wondering how much it helps and whether or not it's worth it! Another big factor would be the type of brakes (carbon fiber or steel) but let's stick to steel brakes for this one. – Lnafziger Jan 19 '14 at 19:53
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    Yeah, exactly. 'Land slower' doesn't sound all that great either ;) – egid Jan 19 '14 at 22:38
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    @Lnafziger my favorite uninformed soundbite from a tv-series by a worried wife: "fly slow and low, honey!". – yankeekilo Jan 20 '14 at 10:53
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I can't speak to techniques for for larger aircraft like the ones you're describing (reverse thrust, etc.), but for light GA aircraft one of the best things you can do to extend the life of your brakes is to not use them for directional or speed control during taxi1.

Most aircraft brake linings are "heat glazed" as part of their initial conditioning, and the heat from normal use (slowing down after a landing) maintains that glaze, but light brake use wears away the glaze on the surface of the brake linings, which reduces brake effectiveness and increases wear.

As far as landings go, I was always taught to use "aerodynamic braking" as much as possible (keeping the yoke back on the landing rollout). I don't know how much it helps with brake wear, but I find I don't need to be on the brakes as long, and anything that reduces the amount of time the linings and discs are rubbing on each other is probably saving a few millimeters of wear.


1 – Obviously safety is paramount here - if you're on a downhill taxiway you might have to ride your brakes unless you can get reverse thrust from your engine(s). Also on planes where differential braking is your sole means of directional control while taxiing just try not to drag the brakes the whole time you're moving.

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    While I too am sure that it will help (as I stated above), my actual question is "How much will these techniques help?" I have updated the post title to be more clear. – Lnafziger Jan 20 '14 at 22:27

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