The Great A380 Square Tire Mystery

Open Jaw

UK publication The Aviation Herald is a serious publication, so the story in its ‘Incidents & News’ section is topped by a serious headline:

Incident: British Airways A388 enroute on May 5th 2016, the square tyre

The what tire?

As the accompanying photo clearly shows, a British Airways Airbus A380 that set off from Hong Kong on 5MAY with 22 round wheels, touched down at LHR with a bizarre square-shaped tire.

The Herald reports that the British Airways crew received a tire pressure warning shortly after takeoff. The flight continued -- there are 21 other tires after all -- but crew requested that a tow tug be available in case the aircraft was unable to taxi to the gate by itself.

Thirteen hours later, the plane landed safely and was able to taxi to the gate without assistance. When it came to a stop, one of the tires caused double-takes.

As the Herald puts it: “The aft right outboard body tyre caused a lot of head scratching trying to explain how the stunning square shape of the damaged tyre came together (editorial note: the original of the photo does not exhibit any indication of photoshopping).”

Experts were baffled: A Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson told the Daily Mail: "It's a curious one. Not seen anything like it before."

Patrick Smith, author of Cockpit Confidential, confessed: "The photo appears genuine, but I'm unsure how such a thing would happen, exactly."

However, Kumar Mysore of the Royal Aeronautical Society told the Mail that the square shape might be due to how the weight of the Airbus A380 distributes itself on a deflated tire.

"You can see that the wheel is not damaged at all, as it is designed to take this weight. The effect is the same as when you squeeze a rubber ring toy with different intensity, it can turn into a different shape. In an A380, for this particular situation, it happens to be squarish."

(will not be published)