FAA Issues SAFO on Tire Inflation Risks

 - June 17, 2009, 11:32 AM

After issuing a proposed Airworthiness Directive that will require operators of Learjet 60s to revise flight and maintenance manual tire inflation information, the FAA has published a Safety Alerts for Operators (SAFO 09012) that addresses tire inflation on all aircraft. The SAFO more clearly acknowledges that this issue arises from the Sept. 19, 2008 crash of a Learjet 60 during takeoff from Columbia, S.C. “The initial investigation revealed tire debris and portions of the airplane’s components on the runway,” the SAFO noted. “It is possible that low tire pressure could have led to a tire failure.” The SAFO continues to explain the dangers of tire over- and under-inflation, adding, “It is imperative pilots understand the dangers of improperly inflated tires. Pressure checks of tires are most meaningful at ambient temperature when tires have been at rest for at least two hours since their last use. When tire pressure is checked with a gauge, the gauge must be calibrated.” While this SAFO is directed to pilots, it should be noted that tire inflation is a maintenance task. The FAA has not published similar advisory material for mechanics.