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Airplane Gravel Kits: Functions and History

During the 1960s, Boeing offered gravel kits for 737s which were necessary for the aircraft to perform safe takeoffs and landings along runways, those of which were unpaved at the time. On an unpaved runway, foreign object debris (FOD) like gravel have the potential to become ingested by the tires of the aircraft which can cause serious issues with vehicle function. This protective equipment has been phased out of the market in modern times, and companies like Canadian North operate their final few aircraft featuring gravel kits with the intention of retiring them by 2022. A gravel kit is a modification that helps aircraft avoid contact with FOD when taking off or landing along an unpaved runway. This modification is intended to prevent harmful materials on the ground from being sprayed into the engine and onto the wings during takeoff, landing, and taxiing.

The gravel kits are composed of several pieces of protective equipment, including a nose gear gravel deflector which happens to be the most noticeable component. This part is used to prevent gravel from hitting the underbelly of the plane which has the potential to enter the engines. They are constructed of steel that is resistant to corrosion, along with a sheet metal edge that offers aerodynamic stability. Moreover, there exist smaller deflectors on the main gear so the flaps avoid damage. Hydraulic tubing and speed brake cables are also protected by metal shields while glass fibers reinforce the inboard flaps. Additionally, a metal edge is secured onto elephant ear fairings, while the undersides of the wings and fuselage are covered with teflon-based paint to help these parts resist abrasion. Other important components of the kit include a retractable anti-collision light, vortex dissipators, and screens in the wheel well which help to protect the components of an aircraft from damage. All of these components are fitted onto the aircraft to protect its undersides from an accumulation of damage which could impact the plane’s performance.

Airplane gravel kits have been phased out of production as most modern airport runways tend to be paved which reduces their demand. The kits are still used on aircraft that land on rough surfaces to keep gravel from contacting the underside and engine of the aircraft. At its peak, there were more than two thousand Boeing operations on unpaved runways in places like Alaska and Canada where unpaved runways were common. As of early 2020, some airlines were still flying 737 aircraft which employ airplane gravel kits including Nolinor Aviation, Air Inuit, and Canadian North. Newer 737s are rarely fitted with gravel kits because of runway renovations which have taken place around the world. Simply put, there is no need for this technology anymore unless the runway has uneven ground.

If you are in the market for effective aircraft gravel kits, along with other parts, look no further than NSN Sphere, where we are committed to our customers. With over two billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find parts available for immediate purchase, you can trust us with your part purchases. Feel free to fill out a rapid RFQ form, and one of our dedicated account managers will get back to you with a quote for your comparisons in fifteen minutes or less. Once you place an order with us, we work diligently to get your order delivered to your location as quickly as possible. We are AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited, so you can trust that the parts you receive from us will be of the highest quality.

About Author - Charles Howard

Charles Howard is a passionate aviation enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the industry. Holding a degree in Aerospace Engineering, Charles has worked with some of the top aerospace companies and has been involved in various groundbreaking projects that have shaped modern aviation.

Currently Charles is leading the content marketing team at NSN Sphere. Charles's passion for writing is matched only by his commitment to delivering value to his readers. His blogs are known for their clarity, creativity, and ability to distill complex topics into easily digestible and enjoyable reads.


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