During the colder months, ice forming on aircraft can pose a problem. Ice that coats aircraft parts can cause multiple hindrances and even affect the lift of the plane. Through deicing and anti-icing, aircraft can have ice removed from the body and components, as well as have protection from reformation.

The deicing compounds that are used for aircraft are a mix of glycol and water. Glycol is a very important chemical as it has the ability to lower freezing points. This compound is then sprayed over the aircraft with a hose and is evenly coated across the entirety. Speed and thoroughness of this process is of utmost importance due to the possibility of the plane deicing again, which is its “holdover time”. This time can be as little as a few minutes, so often deicing is done very close to liftoff.

As deicing does not prevent the possibility of refreezing of parts, utilizing an anti-icing application is very beneficial as needed. Anti-ice formulas are similar to aircraft deicing, but the amount of glycol concentration is much higher. Anti-icing is spread uniformly across the aircraft and is done in a thin coated layer. According to the FAA, anti-icing should always be done within three minutes of deicing.

Once the aircraft is in the air, there is much less to worry about freezing as aircraft have methods to keep parts warm. Aircraft may have pipes that carry hot air created by the engine to other parts, such as the wings and tail, to keep them from freezing. These methods are often in place because the altitude in which most commercial aircraft fly in is below freezing all year round.

Although applying deicing and anti-icing compounds can sometimes cause a flight to be slightly delayed, it is very important to the optimal functionality and safety of the aircraft. The FAA has set out very strict rules and guidelines for how the agents are made, how they are applied, and more to ensure that these processes are done correctly and efficiently.

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Just like our own personal cars, aircraft need constant maintenance to ensure that every part works correctly and is repaired or replaced as necessary. While we may think of it as a nuisance that can cause delays, we understand that taking care of our machinery is important and keeps everything functioning smoothly and safely for everyone. But how do aircraft maintenance checks work and what are the tools used to complete them?

Applied Technical Services, or ATS, have been leaders in the Aviation NDT (Non-destructive Testing) industry since they first obtained their repair certificate from the FAA in 1975. They work to detect flaws and threats in aircraft components and search for common flaws, including cracks, thermal cycling, unintended overheating, and vibrations. Some of the few ways that they detect these flaws early is through eddy currents, ultrasonic testing, and magnetic particle inspection services.

Eddy current testing (ET), is a method that is beneficial for finding small cracks and defects that may be on or near the surface and can provide technicians with immediate results. This method of testing can be used for crack detection, material and coating thickness, and conductivity testing during aircraft inspections. Due to the portability of ATS’ ET testing equipment, they are able to inspect complex shapes and sizes of aircraft conductive materials. They utilize this form of testing in field locations, laboratories, and customer premises.

Ultrasonic testing, or UT, is also beneficial for detection as it is recognized for having the highest depth of penetration for finding subsurface flaws. ATS utilizes NDT UT for detecting flaws, taking dimensional measurements, as well as material characterization. Ultrasonic testing is very useful for immediate results and technicians often only need one side access. UT equipment has proven to be highly accurate for finding flaws as well as estimating their size and shape. Common findings using UT equipment include shrinkage cracks, welding defects, hydrogen flakes, and more to find what needs to be repaired or replaced early.

Magnetic particle inspection services are a very popular method of aircraft maintenance and repairs checks as it is a form of nondestructive testing, and has proven to be one of the most cost effective inspection methods with a very short turn-around time. Similar to Eddy Current Testing, MPI can detect at, or near surface flaws and discontinuities. One method of using MPI is using dry particle and wet suspension while applying continuous residual magnetization. Using this method, technicians can find flaws in ferromagnetic materials, cooling cracks, machine tears, cupping, and more.

Aircraft engine inspections and aircraft maintenance are important for functionality and safety of every part. The FAA sets preventative and minor maintenance schedules along with required annual inspections to ensure that all components are repaired or replaced before failure. The FAA also publishes Airworthiness Directives, or AD Notes, to help provide owners of aircraft with info about unsafe conditions. There are many utilized methods to detect flaws, and all work to aid maintenance checks and safety of everyone.

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If you’ve ever flown on a plane or even looked up at one in the night sky, then you’ve probably noticed that the plane is equipped with a number of bright lights. If you’re the more detail-oriented type, you might have even noticed that planes flash different sets of lights during landing and takeoff. So what is the purpose of these aircraft lights and what do they mean? Read on below to see why these external aircraft lights were put in place and how they help with flight operations.

Landing Lights

Landing lights are usually placed under the fuselage or positioned on the aircraft wings. They’re designed and positioned so that the pilot can see the runway when landing or taking off. They also serve to let pilots on other airplanes know that they’re there. At around 200 feet above the runway, the pilot will turn on landing lights so that the plane can be illuminated for others to see. The same goes for when taking off and when they reach cruising altitude, the pilots shut them off.

Taxi Lights

In the same way that a driver uses the car headlights, a pilot will use the airplane's external taxi headlights to light up the path in front at night. Pilots will specifically use taxi lights to illuminate the taxiway and find the runway or gate during dark and cloudy climates. Taxi lights may not seem very bright if you’re looking at a distance but if you are part of the ground personnel team and see that taxi lights are approaching, then that’s the signal for you to look away as these lights up close can cause retinal damage if you look directly into it.

Anti-Collision Lights

The name is self explanatory- these lights are designed for avoiding collisions by for letting ground personnel and other pilots know that you are flying nearby. There are three different types of anti-collision lights including:

  • Red, Green, and White Position Lights - These lights are specially positioned on an aircraft to let ground personnel and other pilots know that the position of the plane. These lights consist of red and green lights, the former being positioned on the left wing and the latter being located on the right wing
  • Red Beacons - Positioned on the top and bottom of the aircraft, these beacons begin to flash some moments before the engine starts and are turned off after the engine is turned off. The red beacons let ground personnel know that the engines have started and that they should move aside. Being around a plane when its engine is on can be dangerous and these beacons help mitigate any risk.
  • White Strobe Light s- These are the lights that you see every time you see an airplane flying through the skies. Located on the wing tips, these white strobe lights are blinding when viewed closely, but when viewed from a distance during even the most cloudy of days, shine brilliantly through to illuminate the plane.

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There’s a common mantra amongst engineers: “just about any person can build a bridge that stands, but it takes an engineer to design a bridge that can barely stand.” This kind of mentality might strike some folks as a little unnerving but it’s this sort of value that has led to the successful construction of countless buildings, bridges, and of course airplanes.

What a lot of people may not know is that some aircraft like the 747 aircraft can take off and fly with only two engines. So why is it that the majority of planes, according to regulations set by the FAA and EASA need to carry four engines? The answer is simply that the more aircraft engines you have on an aircraft, the more reliable it is should any issues arise with it. Engineers can design a plane to fly sufficiently with two or three engines, and so, as an added measure, they add another to keep pilots and their crew from having to rely on only three engines.

At times, smaller planes-or planes with few passengers-will be approved for takeoff despite having only two engines running. This is because the plane is light enough that two aircraft engines will cooperatively keep the plane flying at cruise altitude. This changes with a full flight of passengers and with bigger planes. After all, 100,000 pounds is a massive amount of weight to carry and the more engines you have, the better thrust and power you have to reach higher altitudes.

Lastly, pilots will want to reach higher altitudes while flying because they can avoid turbulence and ensure for a smoother, more efficient flight. Having two aero engines may be able to clear some terrain but it’s no guarantee, which is why aviation engineers have mandated the power of four powerful engines to achieve inclines.

There are many measures to ensuring a safe certified aircraft and having four FAA approved engines is a vital step towards preventing AOG (aircraft on ground) or other complications. Engines play a significant role in flight operations, so it is of utmost importance that the parts used be 100% certified throughout the supply chain process. At ASAP Fulfillment, we recognize the value of having efficient aviation supplies, military parts, NSN parts, etc. and so we offer a diverse inventory of supplies that strictly abide by Federal Aviation Regulations. Feel free to look through our CAGE Code directory to browse through the supplies we offer.

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What are turbochargers and superchargers, and what are their differences? Their names are similar, and they fulfill similar purposes, but they are different in how they function. In this blog, we will explore these differences.

A turbocharger uses exhaust gasses from the gas engines to turn a turbine, which compresses and forces more air into an engine. When more air enters the engine, more gas can be added to the fuel/air mixture, which in turn produces more combustion, and therefore lets the engine generate more power. Because of this extra air compression, turbochargers are especially useful at higher altitudes, where the air is thinner and can negatively affect engine performance.

A supercharger is similar to a turbocharger, but is driven by the engine’s crankshaft, and is connected via a belt or chain. A supercharger requires engine power to run, whereas a turbocharger runs off of waste exhaust gasses.

Turbochargers are more efficient than superchargers, since they use air that is already passing through the exhaust pipe. They are not one hundred percent efficient, since it does take energy for the engine exhaust to turn the turbine, but compared to superchargers, they use less fuel, weigh less, and typically provide a greater increase to the engine’s total horsepower. Their greatest downside is that they suffer from lag; because it takes a second for exhaust gas to spin the turbine, there is a delay when the engine is throttled up to the time the turbine achieves the desired speed and output. Turbochargers also provide little to no benefit at idle and low power settings, and can suffer from power surges when the engine power is rapidly reduced, and air pressure builds quickly in the intake manifold, causing a temporary flow reversal and vibration.

Superchargers, on the other hand, have no lag, can boost an engine even while it is operating at low power, run at cooler temperatures than turbochargers, and are relatively cheap when compared to turbochargers. However, they are less efficient in terms of power and fuel economy, and require more maintenance since they have more moving parts.

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