For a large aircraft like a B747 or A380, how much does the weight on the main gear increase when the nose gear is in the air? I mean, in these two cases:

  1. What is the maximum extra weight on the main wheels when rotating at maximum takeoff weight, with the nose wheel off the ground?
  2. What is the maximum extra weight on the main wheels when touching down at maximum landing weight, with the nose wheel off the ground?
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ For (1), the weight will be less than the total weight of the aircraft since the wings are generating lift and helping hold some (most) of the weight up. As for (2), at the exact moment of touchdown it is some function of the speed of touchdown and the weight of the aircraft, along with how much lift is being generated. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 19, 2018 at 16:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Related: How much force does a 747 land with? $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Jan 19, 2018 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


There's more weight on the main gear when the aircraft pushes back from the ramp and is taxiing than on the takeoff roll, due to the lift generated from the wings. When the aircraft rotates the higher angle of attack generates enough lift to 'offset' the aircrafts weight and it takes off. The most weight a main gear set will take will be on a firm landing at max landing weights (or above in an emergency). On the 737 there is a 'hard landing' G limit of (i think) just over 2G. So in theory temporarily on touchdown the main gear between them are handling twice the aircrafts weight.

As an example for the 737: MTOW 77 tons. MLW 65 tons. 4 main gear wheels.

heavy take off = 77/4 tons when parked ready to push back, reducing to 0 on rotation. ie roughly 20 tons per wheel and tyre.

adding in landing G forces...

firm landing (but in limits) = (65*2)/4 tons on touchdown, quickly reducing back to 65/4. ie roughly 32 tons per wheel down to 16 when parked up.

emergency landing after take off at MTOW = (77*2)/4 tons at touchdown. 36 tons per wheel!


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