Aircraft control cables are an integral part of aircraft systems, allowing connectivity of controls and their corresponding components for vehicle manipulation. These cables help a pilot control the aircraft’s roll, pitch, angle of attack, landing gear, and a multitude of other important systems. Due to this, it is easy to understand why ensuring these parts are well maintained and always in good condition is critical. Without functional control cables, flight is simply impossible.
As with many types of cables, aircraft cables consist of multiple wires that are wound together in a strand and then protected with a jacket. This is to provide protection, flexibility, and ease of wire management. Aircraft control cables are subjected to many stressors during their service life including weather, temperature, stretching, and deterioration.
Cables are normally inspected and replaced as needed during an Aircraft’s required 100 hour inspections. During this time, cables are checked for deterioration such as broken wire strands, snags, distortion, interior damage, and other losses of integrity. Different tests can be done to locate these problems and when an issue is found, the entire cable may be replaced. Often, the inspection of all cables during aircraft maintenance can prove to be more costly than simply replacing all the cables themselves. Thus, replacing cables every 5-15 years, depending on the location, can be recommended to offset the problem and heavier costs entirely.
Sometimes, pilots believe that the costs outweigh the need for replacement and inspection, but this is highly discouraged due to the safety risks that it can pose if cables are left unchecked for long periods of time. As with any aircraft component, all have a set service life that should be followed for aircraft and pilot safety. An easy way to be aware of these lifespans, as well as other general lifespans, is to check manufacturer guidelines for the specific part.
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