March 3, 2021

Old Airplane Tires Are Turned Into…What?

You may go years without changing the tires on your car—or admittedly, longer without even thinking about changing the tires on your car. Airliners, which literally weigh tons more than your average Subaru, don’t have the same luxury.

Southwest Airlines, for example, usually changes tires every five to six weeks, and in the past year, it has used nearly 40,000 of them, an airline spokesman tells Condé Nast Traveler. That’s a lot of rubber, so airlines and suppliers are constantly thinking about how they can be more sustainable and less wasteful. This usually means retreading the tires as many times as possible—JetBlue, for its part, says it can retool and reuse a tire seven times before it is no longer viable.

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