How are Aircraft maintained and repaired?

Aircraft maintenance and repair is a highly litigious and systematic process. Airplane travel is the safest form of passenger travel because of the regulation and attention to detail involved in maintenance. The FAA is the regulatory body in the United States that governs aviation maintenance, and many international agencies have modeled themselves after the FAA. This blog will discuss the general process of aircraft maintenance and repair, and the FAA regulations that govern it.

An airplane and its numerous components are put under enormous stress with every flight. Heat, vibration, corrosion, and weight are all variables that add to the deterioration of aircraft components. Maintenance programs are designed to increase the lifespan of aircraft by effective inspection of individual parts and the replacement thereof. There are three general forms of maintenance performed on the aircraft: light, heavy, and workshop maintenance. Light maintenance includes:

  • Quick troubleshooting.
  • Lubrication of high-friction areas.
  •  Individual component replacement.
  • Visual inspections of the cockpit, shrouds, engine, tires, etc.
  • Minor repairs and modifications.

This type of work does not require disassembly of the aircraft and can be done on-site. The second form of maintenance is called heavy or depth maintenance and consists of actions that are performed less frequently and thus are usually more time-consuming. Examples of work done in this type of maintenance include:

  • Removal of large parts of the plane for deterioration checks.
  • Retrofitting with technology upgrades.
  • Cabin remodeling.

These activities generally need to be done at large or specialized facilities and may take much longer. The final type of maintenance is workshop or component maintenance, and it is very straightforward. If any parts such as an engine or avionic unit are removed as part of heavy or line maintenance, they will be disassembled or repaired in the workshop. 

Occasionally, even with the most thorough of maintenance programs, aircraft components still fail. Repair is when maintenance personnel aim to restore an aircraft to an airworthy and operable condition. The FAA categorizes repairs as major or minor, and the definitions of each can often cause confusion. The FAA defines major repair in AC 120-77: "If improperly done, might appreciably affect weight balance, structural strength, performance, power plant operation, flight characteristics, or other qualities affecting airworthiness." Minor repairs include anything not covered in the scope of that definition. These categories can be further divided into the exact type of work being performed on the aircraft. For example, structural repairs include repairing the skin, stringers, bulkhead, etc., which are usually damaged by birds, lightning, or accidents with ground service equipment. Component repairs include removing, disassembly, cleaning, and replacing individual parts like the engine, battery, and exhaust system.

The FAA regulations regarding the maintenance and repair of aircraft are found within 14 CFR Part 43. Part 43.3 of this section covers who may perform preventative maintenance and repairs on different airframes. This list includes certified mechanics and the aircraft pilot, granted the pilot is the owner and operator of said plane. The remainder of Part 43 covers the documentation and frequency in which preventative maintenance should occur.

Preventative maintenance and repair are vital to extending the longevity and operability of aircraft. Furthermore, neglection of these practices almost always leads to an aircraft-on-ground situation or in-flight mishap. The next time you need high-quality and dependable aircraft parts, Purchasing Sphere is here to help. We offer one of the largest inventories of new, used, and obsolete aviation parts, and we frequently help customers source hard-to-find components. Furthermore, most of our inventory is routinely put through deliberate quality assurance testing and document verification, so you know you receive premium parts. Please search our database to find the aviation item you are looking for and submit an Instant RFQ today to see why countless customers choose Purchasing Sphere.


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