Not all aircraft are actually fitted
with brakes, however it is highly unlikely that you will ever fly one. Aircraft
brakes are disc and are hydraulically or pneumatically operated.
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main wheels only are braked, and most aircraft are fitted with
differential braking. This means that the left or right brake can be
applied individually, which enables the aircraft to turn about on its
axis. This is a useful for tight manoeuvring. In aircraft with a castoring nose wheel, not connected to steering), the use of differential
brakes is the only way that the aircraft can be steered on the runway
below the speed of rudder authority.
Too heavy an application
of brakes (unless really necessary) will result in rapid pad wear and flat
sports on the tyres.
Most modern aircraft are
fitted with toe brakes. The top section of the rudder pedals are
connected to the brake system. Care must be taken to to apply them at high
speed on the runway, as this will result in a violent change of direction.
Some older types have heel brakes. Here the positioning is reversed. Most
pilots find them harder to use. A few aircraft (such as the YAK types)
have small levers on the control stick that actuate the brakes
pneumatically while others may have hand levers (Shaw Liberty)
Some aircraft have an
independent handbrake that will apply the brakes evenly onto both main
wheels (Pipers). Other types, (Cessna, Mooney) require that the toe brakes
are applied and then a knob has to be pulled out to lock the brakes.