Every Aircraft Needs Maintenance
Aviation maintenance is crucial for safety and making sure that aircraft are able to fly without any problems!
In the United States, airlines and other commercial operations of large or turbine-powered aircraft adhere to a program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This continuous inspection program, known as the Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP) details routine inspections and maintenance.
The program regulates aviation maintenance by way of ensuring inspections, repairs, and maintenance occur regularly. Two major factors of the frequency of an aircraft’s need for servicing are flight hours and age.
Furthermore, it’s important to remember that all aircraft are different and may require maintenance checks at different times than others.
Much like an automobile, aircraft need more frequent servicing during regular service. The age of an aircraft depends on the chronological age, the number of flight cycles, and the number of flight hours. Additionally, individual aircraft components age differently depending on these factors and others, making it more difficult to determine the exact age of an aircraft.
Aging effects, such as wear, deterioration, and corrosion occur over time. If not managed, these effects can be a significant safety concern.
Additionally, to assist operators and airlines, the FAA has created a Roadmap for aging General Aviation aircraft.
Congress passed the Aging Aircraft Safety Act, known as AASR, in 1991. It requires airlines to ensure that repairs or modifications made to their airplanes are damage-tolerant. As part of the requirement, airlines must have placed a damage-tolerance-based maintenance program in place by December 20, 2010.
The AASR required operators and airlines to rethink their entire maintenance programs for aging aircraft. Under the FAA, these operators had to seek approval of the programs they suggested before they were even implemented.
The amount of flight hours makes a large difference in how often aircraft need maintenance. Many airlines and operators create their own plans of maintenance, which depends on the frequency a specific aircraft is in service.
Aircraft have set checks at various intervals, often known as flight line maintenance checks and also four different types of higher-level maintenance: A, B, C, and the heaviest (D) checks.
Line maintenance is the most frequent and often includes the most basic of inspections. For example, this check requires aviation maintenance technicians to inspect things like wheels, brakes, and fluid levels (oil, fuel, hydraulics).
Next, the A, B, C, and D checks are usually performed after a certain number of flight hours. They require a set number of working hours to complete, so the aircraft will not be available for service during these types of checks. As the aircraft logs more in-service time and the age of the aircraft progresses, heavier checks, such as a D check, will be necessary.
For instance, D checks occur every 6-10 years depending on the aircraft’s usage and age. D checks are comprehensive inspections and repairs of the entire aircraft and can mean taking apart the aircraft to inspect for damage and corrosion.
The Frequency of Maintenance
Both factors that determine how often an aircraft needs to be serviced go hand-in-hand. Aircraft are constantly being inspected, repaired, maintained, and overhauled to provide the safest possible journey for passengers or cargo!
The frequency of maintenance is dependent on the aircraft, as well as the requirements set forth by the aviation governing body (for instance, the FAA in the United States.) Airlines and operators implement a maintenance system and must ensure that it is followed routinely and correctly for each aircraft.
To sum it up, aviation maintenance is not only necessary but a large part of the aviation industry. Aviation technicians may be the unsung heroes that keep our skies safe, but they are truly an integral part of how aircraft can keep flying.
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