Wheel chocks are a very important component in aviation safety. When purchasing aviation wheel chocks, two of the material choices available are wood and polyurethane. While wood wheel chocks were the first aviation chocks designed and they are still in use in many locations, upgrading to polyurethane wheel chocks is a smart choice for a number of reasons.
One of the most important reasons for using polyurethane wheel chocks is safety. Polyurethane is easier to see, holds a reflector for longer, and can built with glow in the dark properties.
The major advantages to choosing polyurethane aviation wheel chocks over those made from wood include:
- Polyurethane wheel chocks last longer than wood. Polyurethane as a compound does not decay in the sun.
- While their initial cost is higher than wood, polyurethane wheel chocks are a much better value in the long term.
- Polyurethane aviation wheel chocks are tested and approved for military use.
- Unlike wood, polyurethane wheel chocks are resistant to fuels, oils, and lubricants.
- Polyurethane wheel chocks require no maintenance or painting (wood chocks require regular painting).
- Wood wheel chocks can crack, splinter, and rot, which can result in foreign object damage to aircraft and injury to personnel.
- Wood wheel chocks exposed to wet conditions soak up water, which makes them heavy and hard to handle.
- The structural integrity of wood wheel chocks can be compromised as a result of warping, rotting, or cracking. None of these are an issue with polyurethane wheel chocks.
- The rope knot hole, rope exit hole, and horizontal rope slots have a smooth radius edge that improves handling and eliminates sharp edges that could cut the user or abrade the rope.
Case Study: 121st Air Refueling Wing, Ohio National Guard
Aviation Wheel Chocks: A short and long-term cost comparison
The upfront cost of purchasing polyurethane aviation wheel chocks is approximately 2 to 2.5 times higher than the cost of wood chocks. While this is a sizable difference in the initial expense, wood wheel chocks actually end up costing much more when evaluated over the long term.
Evidence of this fact was made apparent by one of our military customers at the Ohio Air National Guard who recently revealed, “We originally projected a 10-year time frame to realize a cost savings. At this time we will realize a cost savings on the initial purchase by the end of the fourth year.”
Costs Associated with Maintaining and Replacing Wood Wheel Chocks Maintaining wood chocks requires sanding and repainting on a regular basis. Costs associated with this maintenance include the purchase of sandpaper, paint, and supplies. In addition, the man-hours required to inspect, maintain, dispose of, and order replacement chocks is significant.
The 121st Air Refueling Wing (ARW) of the Ohio National Guard used both wood and polyurethane aviation wheel chocks side-by-side for ten years. The following statement quantitatively defines the conclusion they reached at the end of their evaluation:
“In summary, the 121st ARW spent a total of $25,715.24 to purchase, replace, and maintain their wood aviation wheel chocks in one decade. 121st ARW could have saved 26.7% or $6,879.05 by purchasing polyurethane aviation wheel chocks.”
Maintaining Polyurethane Wheel Chocks
When using polyurethane chocks, maintenance costs are virtually eliminated.
- Polyurethane wheel chocks are engineered to stand up to heavy use and extreme weather conditions.
- They are mold-resistant, and will not chip, splinter, or crack.
- Their structural integrity is not affected by aircraft fluids, solvents, and oils.
- Using polyurethane chocks requires no painting – the color is molded directly into the chock.
Performance and Functionality
With military aircraft being mostly kept outside, it is imperative that equipment such as wheel chocks have the durability to hold up under extreme climate and working conditions. Polyurethane aviation wheel chocks are engineered to perform in all conditions – from freezing, sub-zero arctic temperatures to the intense, oppressive heat of the desert.
Wood wheel chocks can easily freeze to ramps, while polyurethane wheel chocks will not freeze or slip. Our polyurethane aviation wheel chocks are available with optional anti-slip rubber bases for use on polished hangar floors and other locations where additional traction is needed.
Effects of Water on Wheel Chocks
When exposed to wet conditions, wood wheel chocks will absorb water and get much heavier. In fact, the weight of a waterlogged wheel chock will increase by as much as 70%. This added weight makes them much harder to lift and maneuver into position under a tire. In comparison, polyurethane wheel chocks are water-resistant and maintain their lighter weight and maneuverability in all weather conditions.
Our polyurethane aviation wheel chocks feature a high-visibility yellow and orange color that is molded directly into the chock and never needs painting. We have also included glow in the dark strips and reflectors. The color can be customized and imprinted with a company logo as well.
The tendency of wood wheel chocks to warp, rot, crack, chip and splinter over time poses a significant safety risk for personnel and equipment. A rotted or cracked wood chock can damage expensive aircraft tires. Additionally, cracks or rot on wood chocks can reduce structural stability and pose a potential hazard to personnel and equipment. Polyurethane aviation wheel chocks are specifically engineered to be highly durable and will not warp, rot, crack, or splinter.
Foreign Object Damage
Wood aviation wheel chocks can easily splinter and crack. When this happens, it not only poses a safety risk to personnel but can also result in foreign object damage (FOD) to expensive aircraft engines. Polyurethane wheel chocks effectively eliminate the risk of foreign object damage because they will not splinter or crack.
Polyurethane aviation wheel chocks have been independently tested and approved by the United States Military for use on military aircraft.
This work was completed as a joint project with the Air Force Engineering Support Activity (ESA) responsible for the management of aviation wheel chocks, for both aircraft and ground support equipment.
For added safety, ANSI-compliant user guidelines are molded into each chock.
Commercial and Personal Use
We offer polyurethane wheel chocks that are ideal for commercial, cargo, business and private aircraft use. Various sizes are available for use on small, mid-sized, large, and oversized aircraft.
Why Trust our Industrial Safety Products?
We manufacture durable polyurethane wheel chocks that stand up to the harshest conditions on the planet. They are specifically designed to perform in extremely wet, cold, and hot climates, and they offer significant advantages over traditional wood chocks. Not only do they stand up to everyday wear and tear better than wood chocks, they are also less expensive in the long run.
Choosing our polyurethane aviation wheel chocks over wood is a cost-effective solution that should be seen as an investment in safety rather than a cost. While the initial capital outlay will be higher, within a few short years these wheel chocks will end up saving you money.