Maintenance is an essential part of owning and operating any aircraft. The parts that make up these engines have a limited life that affects their ability to perform optimally, so they must be periodically replaced or repaired as needed for the engine unit itself to remain effective. A good pilot knows that without proper maintenance, these machines would quickly fail in their tasks. To ensure the engine's durability and a longer life, you need to maintain it. This will help limit wear on components that can directly or indirectly impact performance in various ways.
Aircraft engines are designed to operate under the most rigorous conditions. They are subjected to vibration, friction, and high interior temperatures and corrosion from ingested foreign debris. This physical damage, paired with continuously rotating engine parts, causes fatigue, leading them down a path towards ultimate failure over time.
Maintaining an engine is not just about preventing wear and tear on all those vital components. The maintenance support team needs to assess the condition and performance of engines to avoid more extensive repairs or replacements. Timely maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) can extend the life of vital components, like aircraft turbine blades, vanes, and other aircraft parts.
Every engine is different from one another; hence, their requirements for maintenance also differ. The maintenance of any aircraft engine largely depends on the mandated times between overhauls (TBOs).
The durability of an engine is a significant factor in determining its service life. Aircraft engines with older designs typically have TBOs that are less than 5,000 hours. On the other hand, modern engine models can last up to 6,000 hours before needing servicing or overhauling in some cases. On an average, business aircraft generally have less than 500 hours of flying time in a whole year. Thus, the average time for MRO operations for business aircraft is about 12 years or more.
The government adds extra times for inspections mandated by law to account for pilots that vary in their average flight hours. These inspections are categorized in two parts: Major Periodic Inspections (MPI) and Hot Section Inspections (HSI). These two types of plane inspections will have their set flying hours, but they may get extended in certain circumstances when one follows engine maintenance programs with special conditions.
There are ten significant steps involved in the complete overhauling of an engine. They are as follows:
Inspecting your engine is an integral part of maintaining it. The inspection phases are precise and detailed, so they cannot be overlooked or carelessly performed. Make sure you keep a record of every inspection for future reference. This will help if anything goes wrong down the line.
When an engine is overhauled, the total cost can range from ? to ? the price of a new machine. Small aircraft components cost around $200k to $300k, and larger engines can reach $3 million dollars in some cases. With the cost of aviation maintenance rising, many major aircraft engine OEMs have started offering their customers better values by providing them with an "OEM Maintenance Plan." One such plan is 'power by the hour.' This entails a fixed rate per operating hour that will cover all scheduled work on your plane's engine while also paying for parts and labor when necessary. These plans can even provide loaner units to save you from facing downtime.
Aircraft engine maintenance is an essential step in the life cycle of any aircraft. It consists primarily of washing and drying parts, visual inspections to ensure that everything looks normal under scrutiny, then comes to a dismantling process where each component will get fixed or replaced as needed before being re-assembled with testing to finish the process.
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