Ask the pilot: How is braking done?

What is the true speed of an airplane? How does it stop on landing? The best people to answer your questions about the wonders of aviation are SAS pilots.

Jimisola Laursen       

Age: 41
Career: Joined SAS in 2014. Has flown CRJ900s and 737NGs. Started flying the ­Airbus A320 in 2016. A former track athlete and 400m indoor Nordic record holder.
Home base: CPH
Flies: Airbus 319/320/321
Flight hours: 5,400

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When an airplane has ­landed, how is braking done? With the engines or wheel brakes? 


Hello William,

There are multiple ways to stop an aircraft after landing. Normally, we use a combination of reverse trust from the engines and wheel brakes. Due to noise restrictions at airports we tend to use idle reverse trust, together with the wheel brakes. Thrust reversers are more efficient at high speed. Depending on factors such as runway length and weather conditions, for example, if there is snow or ice, we might decide to use more than idle reverse thrust. The wheel brakes can either be used manually or by “auto brake,” which is when the aircraft system automatically activates the wheel brakes upon touchdown. Auto brake usually has three settings, and if used normally, the first setting, “low” (or “1” depending on aircraft type), is the one used. This setting sets a deceleration rate which is the sum of reverse thrust and wheel brakes, i.e., if reverse thrust is increased, there is less wheel braking.

First Officer Jimisola Laursen

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