Whether you are an individual or a company owning a private airplane, you need to ensure regular aircraft maintenance as well as inspections so that your airplane stays in a sound condition and delivers optimum performance while flying. An airplane is a complicated machine and needs to be serviced in several ways to ensure that every component of the aircraft is functioning properly.
Both new and experienced aircraft pilots and mechanics need to realize the significance of properly carried out aircraft maintenance and repair. Tune-ups at regular intervals keep your flying machine free from any potentially life-threatening issues as well as fully operational. Following are some useful tips for proper aircraft maintenance, remembering which would help you keep your airplane at its peak safety status and operation.
Tips for Aircraft Maintenance
1. Keep a Schedule for Regular Inspection
According to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) rules, all airplanes must undergo one inspection at the least each year. In case the aircraft carries people apart from the crew, additional inspections would be required by it, after every 100 hours of flight. Such inspections ensure the aircraft’s safety and airworthiness.
For airplanes with heavy use, progressive inspections and checks are an option. They shorten the time between the regular inspections, however, the number of checks in the entire year are more. For example, a corporate airplane may undergo inspections and checks after every 25 hours of flight. A special approval is required for this schedule which cannot be transferred.
Additionally, different inspection schedules may be required for individual components. For example, altimeters and transponders must be examined every 24 months. For emergency locator transmitters, the checking needs to be performed every 12 months, although they may not be inspected at the time of the required annual inspection. Inspections of all types should be considered while scheduling airline maintenance.
2. Determine Aircraft Maintenance Goals
Aviation maintenance jobs include looking after the aircraft’s components and structure. The goal is balancing the cost of maintenance and inspections with optimizing the safety of the aircraft. Maintenance offers the opportunity to repair or replace worn-out components and parts of an aircraft before they fail. Aviation maintenance also offers chances to improve the aircraft’s design through modifications.
While performing maintenance jobs, technicians should make sure to stay safe. They should employ a work platform which can help them work efficiently and minimize any risk of falls at the same time. Aircraft maintenance and repair should be a completely safe and secure process for technicians.
3. Perform Component Maintenance
Components need maintenance and checking on a regular basis through inspections for preventing failure. The most common reason behind failure of components is not simply age-related wear. It is, around 90% of generic components and parts failing by chance or slowly over time. To ensure the components have the maximum longevity, choose one of the three preventive maintenance methods.
Hard time maintenance method is the least economical. This method involves replacing a component after it has reached the factory-determined lifespan. Functional inspections examine a certain operation of an aircraft part for verifying that they remain operational prior to replacing them. The most thorough method is functional verification. It examines a component’s all functions, especially the ones that may not be seen by the crew during a flight.
Several steps must be followed for component maintenance. The primary step is regular repair and lubrication of worn-out parts. Operational or visual inspections can show whether any failure has occurred or not. Functional inspections help find indications of impending failure. The rate of failure should be predictable at this step. If not predictable, the component requires to be replaced or restored.
4. Perform Structural Maintenance
An aircraft’s structure is susceptible to damage through standard use and age. As a matter of fact, around 40% of an aircraft’s structural damage occurs because of “friendly foreign object damage” that is caused by ramps or maintenance. Checking for such damage and fixing it, alongside the damage resulting from fatigue and age, is included in structural maintenance program.
5. Perform Regular Maintenance Checks
For commercial airplanes, a set of maintenance checks are required by the FAA that include A, B, C, D, overnight, and preflight checks. The preflight check involves a walk around an airplane before each flight. The preflight check is aimed at looking for visual indications of wear and damage, especially to tires, brakes, and engines.
Between the 100-hour flight inspections, airplanes must be provided with overnight maintenance. The check involved in overnight maintenance is far more thorough that includes checking the fluid levels – including hydraulics and oil – and other types of aircraft-specific maintenance jobs. The A check, conducted every 200 flight hours, needs another period of overnight maintenance. The check is focused on the aircraft’s interior. It ensures correct operation of hydraulics and air conditioning and proper lubrication of every system.
The B check makes the final overnight aircraft check that involves torque tests and flight control tests. This check occurs every 400 hours. In C checks, the aircraft is taken out of commission for about 5 days. This check occurs after every 13-15 months. The C check includes a thorough evaluation of all flight systems and the engines.
If more extensive aircraft repair is needed, or there’s a need to carry out the most thorough examination – the D check – the aircraft would be pulled from making any flights for around 30 days. The D check is conducted after every 2-5 years. It includes checking for and fixing any corrosion issues. In extreme cases, an aircraft may be required to be dismantled and rebuilt because of structural problems. If this occurs, the aircraft also needs to be painted again.
Proper aircraft maintenance services, repairs, inspections, and routine checks are crucial for the safety of an aircraft and the people in it. They facilitate safe flying of an aircraft that improves the bottom line of an operator while providing protection and peace of mind to people. Additionally, aircraft owners should ensure that they conduct the mandatory aircraft upgrade like installing ADS-B (OUT) and FANS-1/A+ in their airplanes so that their planes comply with FAA regulations and deliver optimum performance.