By Patrick Raleigh ERJ On-line news editor
Clermont Ferrand, France-Michelin Aircraft Tyre has signed a five-year â€œexclusive contractâ€ to equip the Virgin Atlantic fleet of aircraft. The deal includes supplying NZG radial tyres for the Virgin's Airbus A340-600 aircraft, the Groupe Michelin firm said 27 Feb.
Six of the Virgin's 311-seat A340-600s are currently equipped with NZG radials, a number that is now expected to rise to ten by 2006, according to the French tyre maker's statement.
The use of NZG technology on the Airbus 340-600 â€œfulfils the aircraft manufacturer's requirements in terms of weight, performance and damage resistance,â€ Michelin commented.
The contract extends an existing relationship between Michelin and Virgin, which included cooperation to secure Airbus approval for the NZG radial tyres, according to Michelin.
NZG tyres use a high-modulus reinforcement ply material, which limits stretch of the rubber tread during service making it more burst resistant on landing or take-off.
Michelin has declined to provide details of the new reinforcement material, though industry sources say para-aramid fibre is a likely component.
Michelin launched the NZG tyre in early 2001, as part of a successful project to restore Concorde's certificate of airworthiness. The certificate had been withdrawn soon after the crash of one of the supersonic jets, near Paris, in July 2000.