Aircraft corrosion is a persistent problem for aircraft operators. Corrosion deteriorates the aircraft structure and its internal components, making it dangerous to operate and expensive to repair. More than that, there is no real way of reversing the effects of corrosion, which can make aircraft inoperable in just a matter of years.
However, there are numerous steps one can take to prevent and treat corrosion, allowing you to stop corrosion before it causes irreparable damage. There are also many types of corrosion in aircraft as well as different ways of inspecting for it. With this in mind, we will cover the various types of corrosion in aircraft. Some of the most damaging types are often found in the battery components and vent openings, engine frontal areas, wheel wells, landing gear, wing flaps, and propellers.
Metal propeller corrosion in particular is quite harmful as it can occur on the surface of the blade or the propeller’s hub. Propellers are especially susceptible to corrosion since they are constantly exposed to harsh, corrosive elements. Additionally, certain aircraft models are more prone to corrosive trouble spots than others. As such, one must always refer to the aircraft maintenance manual or the manufacturer for information regarding your model’s appropriate corrosion control.
As with most aircraft repairs or issues, the sooner you detect corrosion, the better. This is why it is important to carry out frequent inspections and repairs, as well as regular aircraft propeller maintenance. Such precautionary measures allow technicians to treat and remove visible corrosion before it worsens. First, you must thoroughly clean the aircraft to identify any telltale signs of corrosion. This can be done during daily or preflight inspections by assessing all accessible areas and components.
Some popular warning signing include gray or white power deposits on aluminum surfaces and rust-colored deposits and/or stains on steel. Beyond visual inspection, one must feel along the aircraft to detect any blisters, bulges, or cracks in the paint job. For areas with little visibility, angled mirrors, light probes, and other visual aids help in examining the area.
Aircraft Corrosion Prevention
Since the best way to prevent corrosion is to be proactive and vigilant about inspecting aircraft, doing so on a regular basis can catch corrosion in its early stages. That being said, we will outline some of the ways in which one can help protect aircraft from corrosive elements.
For instance, if corrosion had been detected on the surface, it can be easily sanded down using an abrasive material. Then, the spot should be treated with an anti-corrosion product and a protective layer of paint. If the corrosion spot is severe, the corroded components must be removed and replaced.
It is also important to check for sealed windows and doors to prevent moisture from getting inside and causing irreparable damage to the interior of the aircraft. On a routine basis, cleaning and rinsing the aircraft can remove any corrosion-producing agents. Furthermore, one should check for chipped paint. This is critical as it can prevent trapped moisture from seeping in the cracks.
When storing aircraft, one should always keep them in a hangar or under a covered structure. If a hangar is not available, an aircraft cover can provide ample protection. Propeller covers and aircraft covers serve as a reliable way of protecting and securing aircraft when in storage. For aircraft in coastal environments, additional precautions are necessary.
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