They’re not just ordinary tyres.
They’re big and tough, each weighing 209 kilograms. And, with 16 main wheels and two nose wheels, they bear the weight of a fully loaded Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft as it takes off and lands over and over and over again.
But there comes a time when all that work takes its toll, with the main wheels wearing out more quickly due to landing and braking than the nose wheels.
These wheels are checked by the operating captain and engineer before each flight and a tyre is retreaded or replaced as needed. In its normal lifespan, a tyre is retreaded up to six times then finally replaced after 1,500 landings.
Using a jack (two for the centre wheel), a wheel dolly, a spanner and a wrench, it takes two aircraft mechanics 45 minutes to an hour to replace a tyre. And thousands of tyres have to be replaced every year with Cathay Pacific and Dragonair’s 160 aircraft. A Boeing 747-400 alone gets approximately 50 tyres changed in a year, which means 2,250 tyre changes for the Boeing 747 fleet every year.
Staff in the Vancouver cabin crew base showed they have not forgotten the problems still being faced by the victims of Typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines by taking time out in December to prepare food packages for families in two towns that are still flooded months after the typhoon.
A relief and fundraising project called “Share a smile this Christmas” was launched in the Vancouver office and enough money was raised to supply 500 food packages. Staff then spent hours packing the bags for shipment.
Flight Attendant Joel Tuquib flew to the Philippines to help distribute the packages to 500 families in the towns of Barangay Malabanan and Barangay Dela Paz in Binan. “The packages they received may not be much. The food may not even last a week,” Joel says. “But for 500 families whose homes and means of living were destroyed, we hope this small gesture will give them renewed hope – which in turn will strengthen their spirit and help them face the challenges that are yet to come.”
Joel’s family and friends helped in the distribution and also went around the two flooded towns to see for themselves how the people are living there. “We would be happy and honoured if other Cathay Pacific staff would like to contribute to future fundraising efforts,” Joel says. “Giving back to the community, not just in the Philippines but in other countries affected by natural disasters, is an ongoing project for me.”