Browse the Glossary

Viscous Hydroplaning

Aircraft Hydroplaning

Aircraft Hydroplaning

Viscous hydroplaning is due to the viscous properties of water. A thin film of fluid no more than one thousandth of an inch in depth is all that is needed. The tire cannot penetrate the fluid and the tire rolls on top of the film. This can occur at a much lower speed than dynamic hydroplane, but requires a smooth or smooth acting surface such as asphalt or a touchdown area coated with the accumulated rubber of past landings. Such a surface can have the same friction coefficient as wet ice. When confronted with the possibility of hydroplaning, it is best to land on a grooved runway (if available). Touchdown speed should be as slow as possible consistent with safety. After the nosewheel is lowered to the runway, moderate braking should be applied. If deceleration is not detected and hydroplaning is suspected, the nose should be raised and aerodynamic drag utilized to decelerate to a point where the brakes do become effective.

Proper braking technique is essential. The brakes should be applied firmly until reaching a point just short of a skid. At the first sign of a skid, the pilot should release brake pressure and allow the wheels to spin up. Directional control should be maintained as far as possible with the rudder. Remember that in a crosswind, if hydroplaning should occur, the crosswind will cause the airplane to simultaneously weathervane into the wind as well as slide downwind.

About Scott