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Video: Worst-case brake testing on a Boeing 747

Thu, 12 May 2011 00:00:00 -0700

You think your brakes are good? Whether or not you can stop on a dime, your brakes can’t come close to the clampers on a Boeing 747-800 passenger plane. You can bring 4,000 pounds to a halt from 100 mph? Well, the carbon brakes on a Boeing can bring almost a million pounds to a stop from 200 mph.

Boeing tested a set of brakes in April in the worst conditions, and the results were impressive.

For starters, the company used brakes that were 100 percent worn out. Almost all of the carbon material was gone, according to Boeing. They also overpacked the plane with cargo to get up to 975,000 pounds.

The pilot accelerated to 200 mph, then slammed on the brakes, without using the normal reverse thrusting. You can see the jet hunker down in the video, with plumes of black smoke and brake dust coming from the wheels.

For a successful test, the plane had to stop and sit unattended for five minutes. Firefighters were, of course, standing by in case of an accident.

Want to see the 747’s discs glowing bright orange from the ultimate stress test? Check out the video for the full run.

By Jake Lingeman