Types and Construction of Aircraft Brakes (Part Two)

in Aircraft Landing Gear Systems

Dual-Disc Brakes

Dual-disc brakes are used on aircraft where a single disc on each wheel does not supply sufficient braking friction. Two discs are keyed to the wheel instead of one. A center carrier is located between the two discs. It contains linings on each side that contact each of the discs when the brakes are applied.


The caliper mounting bolts are long and mount through the center carrier, as well as the backplate which bolts to the housing assembly. [Figure 13-83]

Figure 13-83. A dual-disc brake is similar to a single-disc brake. It uses a center carrier to hold brake linings against each of the discs.

Figure 13-83. A dual-disc brake is similar to a single-disc brake. It uses a center carrier to hold brake linings against each of the discs. [click image to enlarge]

Multiple-Disc Brakes

Large, heavy aircraft require the use of multiple-disc brakes. Multiple-disc brakes are heavy duty brakes designed for use with power brake control valves or power boost master cylinders, which is discussed later in this chapter. The brake assembly consists of an extended bearing carrier similar to a torque tube type unit that bolts to the axle flange. It supports the various brake parts, including an annular cylinder and piston, a series of steel discs alternating with copper or bronze-plated discs, a backplate, and a backplate retainer. The steel stators are keyed to the bearing carrier, and the copper or bronze plated rotors are keyed to the rotating wheel. Hydraulic pressure applied to the piston causes the entire stack of stators and rotors to be compressed. This creates enormous friction and heat and slows the rotation of the wheel. [Figure 13-84]

Figure 13-84. A multiple disc brake with bearing carrier upon which the parts of the brake are assembled including an annular cylinder and piston assembly that apply pressure evenly to a stack of rotors and stators.

Figure 13-84. A multiple disc brake with bearing carrier upon which the parts of the brake are assembled including an annular cylinder and piston assembly that apply pressure evenly to a stack of rotors and stators.

As with the single and dual-disc brakes, retracting springs return the piston into the housing chamber of the bearing carrier when hydraulic pressure is relieved. The hydraulic fluid exits the brake to the return line through an automatic adjuster. The adjuster traps a predetermined amount of fluid in the brakes that is just sufficient to provide the correct clearances between the rotors and stators. [Figure 13-85] Brake wear is typically measured with a wear gauge that is not part of the brake assembly. These types of brake are typically found on older transport category aircraft. The rotors and stators are relatively thin, only about 1⁄8-inch thick. They do not dissipate heat very well and have a tendency to warp.

Figure 13-85. A multiple-disc brake with details of the automatic adjuster.

Figure 13-85. A multiple-disc brake with details of the automatic adjuster. [click image to enlarge]

Segmented Rotor-Disc Brakes

The large amount of heat generated while slowing the rotation of the wheels on large and high performance aircraft is problematic. To better dissipate this heat, segmented rotordisc brakes have been developed. Segmented rotor-disc brakes are multiple-disc brakes but of more modern design than the type discussed earlier. There are many variations. Most feature numerous elements that aid in the control and dissipation of heat. Segmented rotor-disc brakes are heavy-duty brakes especially adapted for use with the high pressure hydraulic systems of power brake systems. Braking is accomplished by means of several sets of stationary, high friction type brake linings that make contact with rotating segments. The rotors are constructed with slots or in sections with space between them, which helps dissipate heat and give the brake its name. Segmented rotor multiple-disc brakes are the standard brake used on high performance and air carrier aircraft. An exploded view of one type of segmented rotor brake assembly is shown in Figure 13-86.

Figure 13-86. Exploded and detail views of segmented rotor brakes.

Figure 13-86. Exploded and detail views of segmented rotor brakes. [click image to enlarge]

The description of a segmented rotor brake is very similar to the multiple-disc type brake previously described. The brake assembly consists of a carrier, a piston and piston cup seal, a pressure plate, an auxiliary stator plate, rotor segments, stator plates, automatic adjusters, and a backing plate.

The carrier assembly, or brake housing with torque tube, is the basic unit of the segmented rotor brake. It is the part that attaches to the landing gear shock strut flange upon which the other components of the brake are assembled. On some brakes, two grooves or cylinders are machined into the carrier to receive the piston cups and pistons. [Figure 13-86] Most segmented rotor-disc brakes have numerous individual cylinders machined into the brake housing into which fit the same number of actuating pistons. Often, these cylinders are supplied by two different hydraulic sources, alternating every other cylinder from a single source. If one source fails, the brake still operates sufficiently on the other. [Figure 13-87]

Figure 13-87. Many modern segmented rotor disc brakes use a housing machined to fit numerous individual actuating pistons.

Figure 13-87. Many modern segmented rotor disc brakes use a housing machined to fit numerous individual actuating pistons.

External fittings in the carrier or brake housing admit the hydraulic fluid. A bleed port can also be found.

A pressure plate is a flat, circular, high-strength steel, nonrotating plate notched on the inside circumference to fit over the stator drive sleeves or torque tube spines. The brake actuating pistons contact the pressure plate. Typically, an insulator is used between the piston head and the pressure plate to impede heat conduction from the brake discs. The pressure plate transfers the motion of the pistons to the stack of rotors and stators that compress to slow the rotation of the wheels. On most designs, brake lining material attached directly to the pressure plate contacts the first rotor in the stack to transfer the motion of the piston(s). [Figure 13-86] An auxiliary stator plate with brake lining material on the side opposite the pressure plate can also be used.

Any number of alternating rotors and stators are sandwiched under hydraulic pressure against the backing plate of the brake assembly when the brakes are applied. The backing plate is a heavy steel plate bolted to the housing or torque tube at a fixed dimension from the carrier housing. In most cases, it has brake lining material attached to it and contacts the last rotor in the stack. [Figure 13-86]

Stators are flat plates notched on the internal circumference to be held stationary by the torque tube spines. They have wearable brake lining material riveted or adhered to each side to make contact with adjacent rotors. The liner is typically constructed of numerous isolated blocks. [Figure 13-86] The space between the liner blocks aids in the dissipation of heat. The composition of the lining materials vary. Steel is often used.

Rotors are slit or segmented discs that have notches or tangs in the external circumference that key to the rotating wheel. Slots or spaces between sections of the rotor create segments that allow heat to dissipate faster than it would if the rotor was solid. They also allow for expansion and prevent warping. [Figure 13- 86] Rotors are usually steel to which a frictional surface is bonded to both sides. Typically, sintered metal is used in creating the rotor contact surface.

Segmented multiple-disc brakes use retraction spring assemblies with auto clearance adjusters to pull the backplate away from the rotor and stator stack when brake pressure is removed. This provides clearance so the wheel can turn unimpeded by contact friction between the brake parts, but keeps the units in close proximity for rapid contact and braking when the brakes are applied. The number of retraction devices varies with brake design. Figure 13-88 illustrates a brake assembly used on a Boeing 737 transport category aircraft. In the cutaway view, the number and locations of the auto adjustment retraction mechanisms can been seen. Details of the mechanisms are also shown.

Figure 13-88. The multiple-disk brake assembly and details from a Boeing 737.

Figure 13-88. The multiple-disk brake assembly and details from a Boeing 737. [click image to enlarge]

Instead of using a pin grip assembly for auto adjustment, an adjuster pin, ball, and tube operate in the same manner. They move out when brake pressure is applied, but the ball in the tube limits the amount of the return to that equal to the brake lining wear. Two independent wear indicators are used on the brake illustrated. An indicator pin attached to the backplate protrudes through the carrier. The amount that it protrudes with the brakes applied is measured to ascertain if new linings are required.

NOTE: Other segmented multiple-disc brakes may use slightly different techniques for pressure plate retraction and wear indication. Consult the manufacturer’s maintenance information to ensure wear indicators are read correctly.