BRIEFING FILE: Using ‘buckets’ to slow down
ABOVE: How thrust reversers work on the Panavia Tornado’s target system
Stopping a jet aircraft on landing isn’t easy. They usually have a large mass and, even with the various high-lift devices to lower approach speeds, still touch down at a significant velocity. The ground contact area of the wheels is normally small, meaning the use of wheel braking alone is not an efficient means of slowing the aircraft on the runway — the tyres and brakes are at risk of significant heat spikes due to the energy transfer.