The Difference Between Taildragger and Tricycle Landing Gear

While not an equipment piece that serves for the ability of flight directly, landing gear is one of the most crucial aspects of an aircraft that enables safe operations. Coming in a variety of forms and designs, the common goal of landing gear is to provide a means for an aircraft to takeoff and land on various surfaces, as well as traverse on the ground. Taildragger and tricycle landing gear are two of the most common types of configurations, each of which feature different assemblies that may be beneficial to certain aircraft models and needs. To help you understand the differences between each landing gear type, we will provide a brief overview of the taildragger and tricycle landing gear of aircraft.

Taildragger landing gear, also known as conventional landing gear, is a configuration in which two primary wheels are situated near the front of the fuselage while a single wheel is placed toward the back. The rear wheel is a smaller wheel, meaning that the aircraft’s rear will lean backward as the weight of the vehicle rests on the secondary wheel. The name “taildragger” came from the way in which such aircraft tend to takeoff and land, having an appearance of dragging their tail across the runway. Taildragger landing gear has long served aircraft since the early day of aviation, originally coming in the form of steerable tailskids.

Such landing gear has a number of advantages that can be very beneficial, such as how the center of gravity places a small load on the back wheel, allowing it to be built smaller for less parasitic drag. Distribution of weight and landing configurations also allow for slower airframe damage, and they may be easier to operate with skis or traverse in and out of hangars. Despite these advantages, such landing gear often cause more “nose-over” accidents which can be hazardous for the pilot. Additionally, the orientation of the aircraft while on the ground can decrease forward visibility, and present harder taxi maneuvers during high wind conditions.

The tricycle landing gear configuration is a type of undercarriage in which the wheels are situated in a tricycle arrangement. Somewhat opposite to the taildragger undercarriage type, tricycle gear features a single nose wheel in the front, while two or more main wheels are located aft of the center of gravity. Due to their orientation, tricycle landing gear often offers the pilot a more optimal forward view and are less at risk of facing a “nose over” accident. Tricycle landing gear is also known for providing the easiest takeoff, landing, and taxiing procedures, making it very common for many aircraft models.

Their ease of landing comes from the assembly of their wheels, allowing them to meet a required attitude for landing on the main gear as is required in the flare. They are also less affected by crosswinds, and reduce the possibility of a ground loop. Despite these various advantages, tricycle landing gear is known for being susceptible to wheel-barrowing, that of which is when lift is powerful enough to reduce the weight on the wheels while being too little to fully take the aircraft off of the ground. This can result in a loss of directional stability, possibly being an operational hazard.

With the varying differences between the two landing gear configurations, the decision may come down to the personal choice of a pilot and what they are most familiar with. ASAP NSN Hub is a premier purchasing platform owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, offering competitive pricing and rapid lead-times on over 2 billion high-quality parts that cater to a diverse set of industries and applications. Take the time to fully explore our expansive catalogs as you see fit, and our experts are ready to assist you through the purchasing process to fulfill all your operational requirements with ease.


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