Aviation is a very safety-driven industry, and companies invest heavily in developing aircraft components with this priority in mind. Aircraft tires are no exception to this rule, and they must be heavily reinforced to bear an aircraft’s weight. The time and money that goes into developing safer tires is reflected in their cost. But exactly how much do they cost?
An expensive industry
Airliners feature components that, in principle, seem like everyday objects. Indeed, we use things like doors and toilets frequently as we go about our day. However, in the context of commercial aviation, these seemingly everyday objects have been developed extensively to mitigate against anything that could threaten the safety of an aircraft and its occupants.
Many of us enjoy a tea or coffee in the skies and are happy to part with a few dollars for the privilege. However, as Simple Flying explored yesterday, onboard coffee machines can cost as much as $20,000! The rule of high costs reflecting extensive safety development applies not only on a component level, but also to aircraft as a whole. Indeed, today’s highly-advanced jetliners have list prices of hundreds of millions of dollars. But where do tires come into this?
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Buying in bulk
Aircraft tires are certainly more expensive than those found on our cars, but perhaps not as costly as you might have imagined. AeroSavvy reports that:
“Retail tire prices range from a few hundred dollars for regional aircraft to as much as $5000 for a wide-body main tire.”
The Points Guy quotes a slightly different pricing spectrum, although it is still in a similar ballpark. It states that:
“A Boeing 737 main tire, of which there are four per aircraft, costs around $1,500 each. (…) In contrast, a single main tire for a Boeing 777, of which there are 12 per aircraft, will run around $6,000.”
Of course, the implication of retail tire prices is that, much like when purchasing aircraft, companies tend to have a bit of space to negotiate. This is particularly important when placing lucrative bulk orders.
These prices are perhaps not as eye-watering as the aforementioned $20,000 coffee machines. However, we should remember that an airliner will generally require more tires than hot drinks dispensers. As such, the cost of tires quickly adds up over the course of an aircraft, and even quicker across an entire fleet. For example, at $5,000 each, the 12 tires on an Airbus A340, including its famous middle landing gear, would command a total price of $60,000.
Saving money on replacement
However, there are ways in which money can be saved on tires. According to tire manufacturer Dunlop, each of a Boeing 747’s 18 tires can be re-treaded up to seven times. This represents a significantly cheaper solution to tire wear than replacing them. Furthermore, HighSkyFlying reports that manufacturers, rather than airlines, generally cover the cost of re-treading.
How much would you have guessed that aircraft tires cost before reading this article? Let us know how close you were in the comments!