Thrust reversal in aircraft

BL Internet Desk | Updated on: Jun 26, 2022
Threat to safety: Reversing engine thrust can be hazardous

Threat to safety: Reversing engine thrust can be hazardous

It functions by directing the thrust produced by the plane’s jet engines forward, rather than backwards

Can commercial aircraft reverse on their own on the ground just like passenger cars do?

Yes, they can, as aircraft are equipped with thrust reversers. But most airports do not allow aircraft to do so as the jet blast is a hazard for anything in front of the aircraft. Therefore, a tow truck is used to push the aircraft back, which is far safer than allowing the aircraft to reverse on its own.

A jet aircraft reversing on its own can be dangerous because it needs to generate enough power, which takes a considerable amount of thrust. According to Royal Schipol Group’s website, thrust reversal involves great force, and produces an incredible amount of noise.

An engine running at full thrust would also blow away any loose parts or people on the platform.

How does the thrust reverse work? This entails directing the thrust produced by the plane’s jet engines forward, rather than backwards. This method is often used in jet aircraft to brake as quickly as possible after touchdown. It is also used when making an emergency stop. Reversing engine thrust leads to an increase in CO2 production. In addition, thrust reversal can only be used above a certain speed, because otherwise all kinds of dirt will get sucked into the engines.

This dirt then causes increased wear and tear on both the engine and aircraft. Therefore, to reverse the aircraft, a pushback tractor is pressed into service. It uses a tow bar, which is attached to the nose wheel of the aircraft. Modern pushback tractors are able to lift the aircraft’s nose wheel, making connecting and disconnecting the tow bar much less time-consuming. Once the tow bar is connected, the tractor is able to push the plane back, Schipol’s website said.

Can planes reverse in the air? No, they cannot as the reverse thrust is ‘locked out’ until the aircraft senses its wheels are on the ground. Some military transport aircraft can also deploy reverse thrust in flight, but this just serves to increase the rate of descent. They might do this if they need to make a tactical approach where the aircraft must remain very high before rapidly descending towards the runway in order to avoid enemy fire. Despite reverse thrust being deployed, the aircraft is moving forwards at all times.

(Source: flightdeckfriend.com; Tim Morgan, Quora; news.schipol.com).

Published on June 26, 2022
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