Have you ever wondered what happens to airplane tires once their tread has worn down and they’re no longer fit for the runway? You may be surprised where they end up!
You may keep the same set of tires on your car for years without even thinking about changing them but when it comes to airplanes, the tires need to be changed a lot more frequently than that. Southwest Airlines changes their aircraft tires every 5-6 weeks and last year the airline used nearly 40,000 tires! That’s a lot of rubber to get us up, up and away on our flights to New York, Denver and beyond!
In an age of sustainability, what do you do with all that rubber? Most airlines try to retread their tires as many times as possible before retiring them from service. And then, once they really can no longer be used they typically end up on farm equipment. A company called Gensco Tire specializes in turned them into tractor, wagon and backhoe tires.
For other airlines, their tires end up as rubber mulch for playgrounds and sports fields. American Airlines takes recycling even further by recycling the water it uses to clean the wheels and brakes to help make energy after all the contaminants have been removed from it.
The next time you’re at the playground with your kids, just think you could be running around on old aircraft tires!