Influence of Variable Side-Stay Geometry on the Shimmy Dynamics of an Aircraft Dual-Wheel Main Landing Gear

Chris Howcroft, Bernd Krauskopf, Mark H Lowenberg, Simon A Neild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
470 Downloads (Pure)


Commercial aircraft are designed to fly but also need to operate safely and efficiently as vehicles on the ground. During taxiing, take-off, and landing the landing gear must operate reliably over a wide range of forward velocities and vertical loads. Specifically, it must maintain straight rolling under a wide variety of operating conditions. It is well known, however, that under certain conditions the wheels of the landing gear may display unwanted oscillations, referred to as shimmy oscillations, during ground maneuvers. Such oscillations are highly unwanted from a safety and a ride-comfort perspective. In this paper we conduct a study into the occurrence of shimmy oscillations in a main landing gear (MLG) of a typical midsize passenger aircraft. Such a gear is characterized by a main strut attached to the wing spar with a side-stay that connects the main strut to an attachment point closer to the fuselage center line. Nonlinear equations of motion are developed for the specific case of a two-wheeled MLG configuration and allow for large angle deflections within the geometrical framework of the system. The dynamics of the MLG are expressed in terms of three degrees of freedom: torsional motion, in-plane motion, and out-of-plane motion (with respect to the side-stay plane). These are modeled by oscillators that are coupled directly through the geometric configuration of the system as well as through the tire/ground interface, which is modeled here by the von Schlippe stretched string approximation of the tire dynamics. The mathematical model is fully parameterized and parameters are chosen to represent a generic (rather than a specific) landing gear. In particular, the positions of the attachment points are fully parameterized so that any orientation of the side-stay plane can be considered. The occurrence of shimmy oscillations is studied by means of a two-parameter bifurcation analysis of the system in terms of the forward velocity of the aircraft and the vertical force acting on the gear. The effect of a changing side-stay plane orientation angle on the bifurcation diagram is investigated. We present a consistent picture that captures the transition of the two-parameter bifurcation diagram as a function of this angle, with a considerable complexity of regions of different types of shimmy oscillations for intermediate and realistic side-stay plane orientations. In particular, we find a region of tristability in which stable torsional, in-plane, and out-of-plane shimmy oscillations coexist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1181-1209
Number of pages29
JournalSIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems
Issue number3
Early online date23 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • aircraft ground dynamics
  • main landing gear model
  • shimmy oscillations
  • bifurcation analysis


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