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How it works: Brake systemHow it works: Brake system

Friction will stop you in your tracks

For something that has such an important job, the brake system on a light aircraft is simple. 
January Preflight

A Cessna 172, for example, uses a single-disc system. When you press on the toe brake, a master cylinder that’s attached to the brake pedal pushes hydraulic fluid through hoses and rigid lines to a brake-unit housing attached to the landing gear strut. A piston within the housing responds to the pressure by pushing against a lining, which then pushes against a brake disc, which in turn pushes against a stationary lining. The equal friction on both sides of the disc is what slows and stops the airplane. If an airplane is equipped with pilot and co-pilot toe brakes, there will be a master cylinder and reservoir for each brake—and also one for the parking brake.

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.

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