Tyre failures on aircraft during takeoff are fairly common, and are usually (though not always) caused by flat or underinflated tyres (via the overdeflection and overheating experienced by tyres with abnormally low internal pressures). If an aircraft tyre fails during takeoff, this is dangerous in several different ways:

Run-flat tyres are designed to remain useable even in the event of a total loss of internal pressure (generally by incorporating an internal weight-bearing skeleton inside the tyre’s air chamber); given the potentially catastrophic consequences of a flat tyre failing during takeoff, why don’t aircraft use run-flat tyres?

  • $\begingroup$ Do runflat tires still provide the braking power of a properly inflated tires? Do they reduce drag to the level of an inflated tire? I'm guessing not. Runflat tires are intended to provide a modicum of control and usefulness on a ground vehicle, where braking and drag are not nearly as critical. If that turns out to be the case you have your answer. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2018 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ Also, I don't think run-flat tires can do 100+mph without disintegrating while they are "flat". $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 9, 2018 at 4:50
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    $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth, the run-flat tires are normally inflated, so in the deflated state they don't need to be as good as inflated, only better than completely deflated. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Dec 9, 2018 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ I think that would be a solution in search of a problem. Other than the Concorde, how many accidents resulting in loss of life (or injury) have there been because of flats? None that I can think of. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Dec 9, 2018 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ This would make an excellent R&D project. Too many people here afraid of "large pieces flying off". A woven matrix is the same concept as rebar in concrete (and straw in clay bricks), that is to stop a fracture from breaking completely through and to distribute load. Tires are one piece of equipment where overdesign may be in order. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2018 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


The same reasons that run-flat tires aren't more common on cars or trucks are amplified with aircraft.

  • They're more expensive and can wear out faster. They will also be much heavier. This has to be traded against the cost of an occasional flat tire.
  • They typically have a maximum speed when flat. Aircraft tires need to operate at much faster speeds than vehicle tires. Many of the examples you provided were made worse by under-inflated tires.
  • They typically have very limited range when running flat. Again, many of your examples involved under-inflated tires. If they left a regular tire to burst, the same would happen to a run-flat tire.
  • Many tire failures are due to the tires bursting, not just a simple puncture that makes them go flat. A run-flat design will not help in this case, and may even make the fragments more dangerous.

All of your airliner examples were on pretty old aircraft models, and many included additional factors. Regulations and procedures change over time in response to these sorts of accidents. When properly maintained and operated, aircraft are designed so that a disintegrating tire won't cause serious hazards.

  • $\begingroup$ Trading safety for weight and expense needs to be thought about. Nothing against inflatable tires if they are improved to acceptable safety limits. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2018 at 18:49

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