Aviation experts have been left baffled after a British Airways Airbus A380 landed with a square-shaped tire. According to CNN, the plane was a Hong Kong-London flight that landed at London Heathrow on May 5. The incident was first reported on The Aviation Herald, a publication that exclusively reports incidents related to passenger planes.
According to the report on The Aviation Herald, the Airbus A380 with registration G-XLEB was flying as flight BA-32 on the day of the incident. It adds that the crew of the plane did report a tire pressure indicator warning soon after the plane reached cruising altitude. Following this, the crew decided to continue the flight to Heathrow. Their plan was to request for a tow tug to be made available in case the aircraft is unable to taxi on its own after landing. The crew landed the aircraft at Heathrow after the 13-hour-long flight without incident and even managed to taxi toward the gate without anything amiss.
However, the ground crew were baffled upon seeing the shape of one of the 22 tires that the A380 uses. The tire, located on the right outer board, had deflated in a peculiar fashion that made it look square. A photograph was taken which was subsequently posted on The Aviation Herald. The publication also claims that it did not find any signs of alteration or photoshopping in the image submitted to them. British Airways have also confirmed that the A380 did land with “one of its 22 tires deflated” but stopped short of saying anything about the square shape it ended up with after landing. The statement further added:
“The A380, in common with other large commercial aircraft, is designed to be perfectly safe when landing with a deflated tire. Our engineers quickly changed the tire and the aircraft went back into service.”
Needless to say, the image of the square-shaped tire has confused several aviation experts and enthusiasts alike, with several people claiming they have “never seen anything like this before.”
According to a Patrick Smith, author of Cockpit Confidential, a book that deals with several interesting facets about civil aviation, this is the first time he has seen or heard of a plane ending up with a square-shaped tire.
“The photo appears genuine, but I’m unsure how such a thing would happen, exactly,” Smith said.
A senior official from the British Civil Aviation Authority described square-shaped tire case as a “curious one” while adding that he is confused how this could happen.
A plausible explanation did, however, come from Kumar Mysore, from the Royal Aeronautical Society. In an interview to The Daily Mail, he explained that the shape could have been caused by the manner in which the deflated tire handles the weight of the A380. He explains:
“You can see that the wheel is not damaged at all, as it is designed to take this weight. The effect is the same as when you squeeze a rubber ring toy with different intensity, it can turn into a different shape. In an A380, for this particular situation, it happens to be squarish.”
He went on to add that the aircraft was not in any kind of danger even after one of the tires was deflated.
“Pilots are well trained to handle the situation safely.” Mysore added.
As expected from an event of this nature, the square tire on the Airbus A380 also led to considerable social media chatter.
@cnni Thats strange!!! How did it become the square tire?
— Syed Usman Bokhari (@usmanbokhari76) May 11, 2016
Several commenters on The Aviation Herald report also offered plausible explanation for the bizarre incident. However, the actual cause of the square tire would only be confirmed once we have an official investigation underlining the cause.
[Photo by Francois Mori/AP Images]