Don’t Be a Square!

When one travels enough it is inevitable that one will pick up some strange stories along the way. This quite unusual mystery is one worthy of noting.

A British Airways Airbus A380 set off from Hong Kong on May 5 with 22 round wheels, but apparently touched down at London Heathrow with a square-shaped tire. See the photo that was uncovered by aviation news site The Aviation Herald. They reported that the British Airways crew received a tire pressure warning immediately after takeoff. The crew continued with the flight. They requested that a tow be available at the London airport in case the aircraft was not able to taxi itself to the gate.

Thirteen hours later, the plane landed safely and, surprisingly, was able to taxi to the gate with no assistance. It was then discovered that the right outboard tire had deflated both top and bottom, creating a curious squarish shape.

Kumar Mysore, from the Royal Aeronautical Society, told the Daily Mail that the square shape might be due to how the weight of the Airbus A380 distributes itself on a deflated tire. “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.”

Mysore assured the Daily Mail that while there were a number of possible reasons for the deflation, “pilots are well trained to handle the situation safely.”
A spokesperson for British Airways also confirmed that the flight was not in danger.

“The A380, in common with other large commercial aircraft, is designed to be perfectly safe when landing with a deflated tire.”