Tyre maker completes latest R&D project

Dunlop Aircraft Tyres collaborated with Airbus to develop radial tyres for A320 aircraft family

Birmingham-based Dunlop Aircraft Tyres has completed a £1.5 million ATI-approved project to develop and test next-generation aircraft tyres that are lighter and more robust. Dunlop collaborated with Airbus to develop main-wheel radial tyres for the current and latest neo versions of the A320 family of aircraft. Airbus provided the technical specification.

This latest in a series of DATL R&D projects was kicked off by the company's participation in the MAA's ATEP programme ten years ago.

The ATI-approved project had six key objectives:

  • Develop new technologies for the design of next generation of aircraft radial tyres
  • Develop manufacturing processes for radial tyres
  • Develop new materials required for the radial tyres
  • Develop finite element analysis (FEA) modelling capability
  • Test and qualify an A320 main landing gear radial tyre to the Airbus specification
  • Integrate the tyre with wheel/brake and aircraft systems

The first five of these objectives were achieved in full, and work is ongoing to complete the sixth objective following the completion of the project. Dunlop is currently proceeding on a commercial basis with Airbus to certify and approve the radial aircraft tyres for the Airbus A320 main landing gear.

Dunlop’s innovation with materials demonstrated an improved strength-to-weight ratio, enhanced resistance to foreign object damage and increased landings per tread life. In the project, Dunlop developed the next generation of aircraft radial tyres, increased tyre performance by 100% and matured the technology to TRL6 ready for commercial application.

The project has delivered a positive impact for Dunlop Aircraft Tyres which turns over around £50m per year and employs approximately 500 people in the UK and a further 100 people across its global retread, customer service and distribution centres in America and Asia. Both Dunlop’s volume sales and manufacturing employment are expected to increase in the next few years and the finite element analysts appointed during the project are now an integral part of the design team.

Download the case-study here.