The new Boeing 747-8F is one majestic aircraft. Along with all the majesticness (yes I just made that a word) comes a lot of weight. The 747-8F can take off weighing nearly one million pounds and for the flight tests, Boeing needs to make sure the aircraft can successfully complete an aborted landing, fully loaded.
The Ultimate Rejected Takeoff (yes that is official terminology) is not made easy. First they loaded up the aircraft to about 975,000 pounds. Then they made sure the brakes were as worn as possible — not something that would happen during normal maintenance.
Once the aircraft got above 200mph, the Boeing test pilot, Captain Kirk Vining, slammed on the brakes. During a normal aborted take off, the pilot would also use thrust reversers, but not for this test. All that energy (and it is a lot) went directly to the brakes.
The 747-8F was able to stop about 700 feet sooner than Boeing was expecting. However, stopping is just half the battle. As you can see in the video, once the aircraft is stopped, the brakes were glowing red. Even though a fire crew was on the scene, they let the brakes sit for five minutes to see how the 747-8F would react.
This video shows a worst case scenario. Even if you have experienced a rejected take off as a passenger, it most likely wasn’t this violent. This just goes to show that aircraft can handle a lot and are extremely safe.
See the aborted takeoff video from Boeing on Reuters.com
- How a million-pound jumbo jet tests its brakes [Video] (jalopnik.com)
- Boeing 747-8 Freighter passes ultimate braking test (via the Net economy) (crufc.ca)
- Aborted takeoff testing of the 747-8 (gadling.com)