If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, then you know what happens before takeoff. You step onto the plane, find your seat, and put away whatever carry-on items you may have. Then once everyone takes a seat, you direct your attention to the front to listen to some very important announcements from the flight attendants. First time flyers tend to listen very intently to the pre - flight safety instructions, but for many frequent flyers, the process is merely a regularity.
Regardless of however many times you might have heard these pre-flight instructions, it always helps to listen because as times change, new procedures arise that may differ from what you may have heard previously. Not only that, but different airplanes may have different layouts which means the exits may not be exactly where you think they’re supposed to be.
When the flight attendants make their announcements, they go over more than just rules and flight etiquette. They instruct you on what to do if an emergency landing is necessary. When flying, no one wants to even consider the possibility that your flight is stalled, but the fact remains that it is always better to be prepared for an emergency that doesn’t occur than be unprepared for one if it does. This is why aviation safety is so important and why, no matter how many times you have flown before, you should always make a point to listen to cabin crew safety instructions.
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Landings are as inevitable as they are crucial to perfect. This blog will break down ten actions you can take to have a smoother and more controlled landing when you fly.
Communication is vital for safety in aviation, as pilots and air traffic controllers communicate to one another to prevent accidents and collisions. Signaling lights are effective means for establishing communications, especially if an aircraft lacks a radio system, or the radio is malfunctioning.
Aviation signal lights fulfill a similar role as traffic and vehicle lights, in communicating visually what cannot be said aurally. Like automobiles, aviation lights are designed to maintain the safety of pilots, passengers, personnel on the ground, and even the cargo carried by the aircraft. Aviation signaling lights provide guides for pilots on what they need to do while landing an aircraft, where to place the aircraft on the runway, and where to take off from. For obvious visibility reasons, lights are used at night, and are used to guide ground service vehicles working at the airport as well as pilots.
Signal lights have different meanings depending on if the aircraft is airborne or currently on the ground.
Signals on ground:
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Aircraft maintenance is undeniably expensive, with costs stacking ever higher between parts, labor, and lost opportunity. Many types of repairs can be prevented by following proper inspection and aircraft maintenance procedures however, and in this blog, we’ll break down five of the most common and preventable parts failures, as well as how to keep them from failing.
A turbine’s fan blades are an essential part of the engine, so keeping them in good condition via regular inspections is essential. Turbine Fan blades can be affected by conditions like an aircraft’s home base, the missions undertaken, if they are exposed to harsh weather conditions, sand, and humidity. Applying lubrication to the blades every twelve months, however, can help extend the lifespan of the blades and delay expensive replacement costs.
Air conditioning heat exchangers are tasked with regulating and maintaining comfortable cabin temperatures. Whether the aircraft is operating in Arizona or Montana however, these heat exchangers should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year to stop contamination from building up inside them.
Depending on the home base of the aircraft and what mission types it flies on, contamination in the fuel tanks from both water and microbial growth can be a serious issue. To prevent contamination, fuel tanks should be drained more frequently, along with regular sample checks. This is particularly necessary in hot and humid areas, where microbial growth can occur more easily.
Aircraft parking procedures are often overlooked, but absolutely critical. Obstructed or blocked pitot and static ports can be expensive to repair, and potentially dangerous if they cause the aircraft’s instruments to malfunction while in flight. Covering these ports while the aircraft is parked, regardless if it is parked outside or in a hangar, is essential. So is providing aircraft engine covers, especially for aircraft that operate in sandy areas like the Middle East. Sand can contaminate the inside of the engine, causing vibrations, high fuel consumption, higher engine gas temperatures, and clogging the cooling hoses.
An aircraft’s water system should be regularly drained, especially in cold, wintery environments where condensation can occur. If it isn’t, cracks and leaks can cause a cascading number of other issues, especially if water reaches any of the avionics.
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Despite what you may think, the wings on an aircraft are used as storage. No, it is not your excess luggage, it is actually the fuel for the plane. Aircraft have between three to five fuel tanks which the engine pulls from. As you would expect, one of the fuel tanks is located in the center of the aircraft, but a fuel tank is also located in each wing.
An aircraft is able to fly when the force of lift is greater than the force of weight. The wing design helps to create lift. When fueling an aircraft, the weight of the fuel needs to be considered. If the fuel is stored in an area such as the nose or tail, the center of gravity of the aircraft will be thrown off center. As the plane uses up more fuel, a shift of momentum will occur therefore jeopardizing the equilibrium of the aircraft. To ensure that the aircraft is stabilized, the aircraft engine will draw fuel from the central fuel tank first before it is taken from the wings.
In a similar situation, fuel is stored in the wings to act as a counter stress during take-off. During this critical flight mode, the aircraft is under a lot of stress from the aircraft’s mass. This is the key moment in which lift must overpower all the combined weight of the aircraft. Fuel in the wings keeps the angle of the wings level during takeoff. Without the weight of the fuel within the wings, there is the possibility that the wings would snap under the pressure. With this in mind, refueling begins with wing fuel tanks before moving onto the central fuel tank.
If there is a common theme, it is that fuel means weight and weight means stability. Wing flutter refers to the occurrence of vibration on the wings caused by the moving airflow. In all fields of mechanics, vibration is never a welcome occurrence. Vibration can cause significant damage to a component, so it is important to mitigate any and all vibration on the aircraft wings. Storing fuel in the wings provides rigidity to the otherwise hollow wings. Pressure is alleviated on the interior infrastructure of the wings as the fuel stabilizes the wing.
One reason for storing the fuel in the wing that is not related to weight is safety. Due to the flammable nature of fuel it is best to store fuel as far away from the passengers as possible. While this can’t always be the case, storing at least some of the fuel in the wings helps to increase the overall safety of the aircraft. From a cost and design point of view, storing the fuel in the wings increases the overall efficiency of the aircraft. If the fuel was not stored in the wings, the overall size of the aircraft would need to be increased to accommodate fuel tanks.
The storage of fuel is carefully considered in terms of the weight it adds to the aircraft. Not only should the beginning weight be considered, but also the rate at which the fuel is consumed. The wings inadvertently became the perfect storage facility.
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Aircraft engine mounts are the large structures that connect the engine to the aircraft. They distribute the weight of the engine evenly, while disseminating the torque and vibration produced. These parts of the plane endure rigorous stress and must be extremely durable.
Most mounts are made from tubular steel chrome-molybdenum that is welded together. This construction allows them to be lightweight while maintaining durability. The mount is then sandblasted, and powder coated in a variety of bright colors (typically white), to allow easy visibility of cracks or defects on its surface.
Modern four-cylinder engines use mounts that share a resemblance to one another. The engine is fastened to the mount in the back or on the underside of the crankcase. Aircraft engine mounts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including conical mounts, dynafocal mounts, bed mounts, and shock mounts.
Conical mounts are simple to create and assemble. A conical mount has four attachment points, which run parallel with the firewall, and avoid any awkward angles when installing the bolts and shock mounts. One disadvantage of this style is that vibrations caused by the engine torque get transmitted through its frame.
The bracket dynafocal mount has the capability to cushion engine vibration and movement, which results in a significantly lower amount of noise. The engine is fastened by four attachments and require a bit of an angle to function properly. The main drawback of this engine mount is the difficulty in its build, construction, and installation. Bed mounts are more commonly found in a Rotax engine or planes sporting a diesel engine. The engine is mounted using four attachments that are located underneath the crankcase, which then hang onto the firewall.
Shock mounts provide a smooth flight experience. The engine isn’t bolted directly onto the mount as we see in the construction of the other mounts. Instead, stiff rubber shock mounts of varying strengths and thicknesses are used. The addition of the rubber shock mounts soft naturally reduces the amount of vibration and movement, allowing for a much smoother flight and running engine.
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Early aircraft didn’t have brakes— they weren’t necessarily needed— because pilots were able to slow down an aircraft by using slower speeds, soft airfields, and the friction produced from the tail skid. However, as aircraft advanced and became faster and heavier, the need for brakes was quickly recognized. Nowadays, every aircraft is equipped with a type of braking system. They are often more complicated than a car’s braking system and they come in a multitude of options.
Aircraft brakes are most commonly located on the main landing gear and the transmission of brake control input is through mechanical, hydraulic, or electrical linkages. Larger, heavier aircraft often use gear hydraulic pumps because they produce the required hydraulic fluid pressure and volume to safely slow the aircraft down. Not only did brakes become required over time, redundancy systems were eventually required to increase safety in case of primary failures. Large modern aircraft often have multiple independent hydraulic systems that are backed up by accumulators. There are different types and construction of aircraft brakes parts — single disc brakes, dual-disc brakes, multiple-disc brakes, segmented rotor-disc brakes, and carbon brakes.
Single disc brakes include a single disc keyed, or bolted, to each wheel. When the wheel rotates, the disc rotates. Non-rotating calipers are bolted to the landing gear axle flange. When pressure is applied, it is transferred from the calipers to the brake pads, which then utilize friction to slow down the disc and therefore the wheel. Single disc brakes include floating disc brakes and fixed-disc brakes. They are used on lighter aircraft.
When single disc brakes produce insufficient braking friction, dual-disc brakes are used. Multiple disc brakes are used on heavy aircraft because they create more friction and can bear heavier loads. Because friction generates heat, and heavier aircraft require more friction to slow down, slowing down a large aircraft produces excessive heat. This is the purpose of using segmented rotor-disc brakes— they aid in the control and dissipation of heat. Rotor-disc brakes are the most common brakes used on high performance and air carrier aircraft. One of the more modern braking systems is carbon brakes. They utilize the benefits of multiple disc brakes, but they specifically use carbon fiber materials to construct the brake rotors. The benefits include less weight, better heat dissipation, and longer wear.
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While aircraft maintenance requirements can be convoluted, the basics are relatively similar. The entirety of a plane and its parts must be regularly inspected according to the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) standards. Aircraft inspection typically involves assessing the condition of various parts and systems especially aircraft brake parts. To ensure an aircraft is fully compliant, one might seek out maintenance practices outlined by the manufacturer, the aid of repair stations, and/or maintenance technicians.
Routine inspections as outlined by the FAA, include a multitude of time-sensitive evaluations. The frequency of evaluations required is dependent on but is not limited to, calendar specifications, flight hours, and/or flight cycles. A flight cycle refers to the particular series of operations that each component of the aircraft encounters on one full flight.
Checks, depending on the aircraft, might include the servicing, cleaning, or troubleshooting of hydraulics, fuel systems, pneumatic systems, avionics, and more. An important tip to remember: each system has its own specified flight cycle limit or lifetime limit. When reached, the part, and/or system, requires immediate replacement. Aviation maintenance professionals should be cognizant of the flight cycle limits specified to a particular aircraft.
For private plane owners, inspection parameters are outlined by a maintenance review board (MRB) upon manufacturing of the aircraft. The final scope of requirements should be published and available to the consumer upon production.
In the case of commercial airliners, civil aircraft are subject to the specifications listed by FAR part 121 subpart L. An MRB must also develop an FAA approved Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP). This series of measures describes the frequency of checks required, time allotted between each inspection, and part replacement guidelines. Over time, this will include a comprehensive survey of the aircraft. A standard survey will likely include inspection of the engine mounts, fuselage, landing gear, avionics, corrosion risks, wear and tear, and more.
Repair station aircraft maintenance and operations requirements are outlined under Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) part 43. This section outlines parameters for maintenance, preventative maintenance, and standards for alteration of aircraft, aircraft systems, and aircraft articles. Aircraft maintenance technician’s (AMT’s) must be certified by the FAA. These professionals are regulated by FARs as well, and the requirements applicable to their certification can be accessed under part 65.
Comprehensive maintenance is integral to the longevity and safety of an aircraft. From avionics to landing gear, you can see that each aircraft system has predetermined requirements that help keep maintenance in compliance with the FAA.
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When assembling aircraft, it is crucial to follow the rules and regulations which have been set in place by the FAA and other governing and regulatory agencies. Each and every part must be in working condition in order to be allowed on the aircraft. Lack of vigilance can cause many problems and can even result in a manufacturing license being revoked. After all, aviation’s only possible with strict rules to ensure safety.
Fastener parts used must be of high quality and be able to conform to Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFAR). DFAR compliance for metals and alloys is rigorous and sets even higher standards than most other aviation authorities. Their certification ensures all fasteners are made with the same type of metals the manufacturer used.
In addition to DFAR compliance, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) can be used to find a supplier who has the parts needed. Management standard is set by ISO certification. If a supplier is ISO certified, it is guaranteed that that fastener will be of the highest quality. ISO certified suppliers are also very reliable when it comes to fulfilling orders and making deliveries on-time. So not only will you be receiving high-quality aircraft parts, but you will also be receiving high-quality service.
Depending on the type of aircraft, the fasteners used will vary. And, depending on where on the aircraft the fastener is used, it can be subjected to different degrees of stress. In order to ensure safety and reliability, fasteners must be fit for the application that they are designed to fulfill.
Standards for parts used on aircraft should not be taken lightly, as the safety of the aircraft cabin crew and anyone on it is subjected to tremendous risk and consequences.
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The aerospace and aviation industry, as you can imagine, is a very strictly regulated one. In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the body that regulates all aspects of civil aviation — including the aircraft “aftermarket parts” industry. Unlike the automobile industry, replacement parts not manufactured by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) have to go through thorough scrutiny in order to get the parts manufacturer approval (PMA).
The PMA is approval granted by the FAA to a manufacturer of aircraft parts. In general, in the US, it is illegal to install replacement or modified parts on a certified aircraft without airworthiness approval. An applicant for a PMA can apply in several different ways: they can try to convince the FAA that their part is identical to the OEM part; they can provide evidence that they licensed the part data from the OEM; or they can undergo a thorough analysis and comparison process to the OEM part. But, in order to apply for a PMA and airworthiness, applicants need to identify a least one eligible installation in their application.
PMA applicants need to identify the intended installation in the application in order to permit the FAA to consider the airworthiness of the part. Without the context of an actual design in which the part will be used, airworthiness would be rather difficult to accomplish. Not to mention, it would be meaningless. To this end, the FAA only approves PMA parts in context of an existing aircraft, engine, or propeller product, and not in the context of a sub-assembly or as a mere replacement. Of course, applicants are not limited at only one eligible installation. It is up to their discretion to identify other installations. Afterall, the purpose of the FAA and PMA is not to hinder non-OEM manufacturers, but to create and enforce uniform quality standards in order to ensure aircraft safety.
ASAP 360 Unlimited, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, is a leading supplier of aviation “aftermarket parts” both new and obsolete. We’re very dedicated to offering our clients the highest quality parts and components, whether PMA or from the OEM, so that we can meet all of our customer’s mission-critical and AOG requirements. If you interested in learning more or in requesting a quote, call us at +1-469-319-8300 or email us at email@example.com. Our team is available and ready to help 24/7x365.
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