Maintenance - Page 3 Aviation Articles

Will You Pay More in the End?

By Adam Doyle – Paint and Interior Sales Manager
Elliott Aviation

Customers should shop around for the best deals, best customer service, and best quality of work. Sometimes when a customer has a particular need, they try to look for the specialty shop that does just that one thing instead of a shop were they execute more than one discipline. On certain products that may work, although when it comes to repainting an aircraft or getting an updated look to the interior, customers may see these people as experts since they focus solely on one discipline; the inverse, in fact, is true. Let’s take a look at some situations that would call for a one-stop shop compared to a single trade shop.

Elliott Paint PAINT

A quality paint job should last at least six years but can sometimes last longer. We recommend that customers look at paint as a maintenance event. Even if you don’t think you need new paint in six years, you should seriously consider it because paint is the first line of defense and you never know if there is corrosion underneath until you strip the paint completely. We have all heard stories about paint shops where it’s one guy and a paint gun on unfinished floors, not to mention zero controlled atmospheric conditions and absolutely no dedication to quality procedures. This example may be extreme, but there are qualities to look for in a paint shop while there are others you will want to avoid.

You want a facility that is adequately staffed to address an issue if something goes awry in the process. Items like flight controls and other critical elements to an aircraft, for example, can follow strict guidelines that may require maintenance manuals. If the shop where you take your aircraft does not have the manuals because they don’t generally deal with this type of aircraft, this could compromise the customer’s service. Paint that has been on an aircraft for years may be hiding some issues and, once you strip it, there is no going back and those issues must be dealt with.

When searching for a paint facility, look for one that will provide quality work and technicians who will pay attention to the details so that the aircraft is safe and will have a paint job that will withstand the years. Paying a little more now for a quality paint job that will last for many years, will, in the long run, save money because there wouldn’t be further downtime or paying for paint again in just a couple of years. Find a facility with a clean booth because even a speck of dusk landing in the paint can cause problems. As we stated, paint is the first line of defense and, when flying and changing altitudes, pressures and climate conditions at 500 miles an hour, the paint should hold up and not have any reason to crack.

If the aircraft is within a warranty period and the scope of work failed, understanding when and where the aircraft will be repaired along with verification of the warranty and knowing who exactly will be paying for it can be a cause of concern. Look for companies who will provide that information in the original contract. In some circumstances, a company that wants a satisfied customer who will return when work is needed will most likely make exceptions and see that the issues are resolved in a timely manner. If these paint and interior only shops do not have the adequate equipment and manpower or even the proper manuals for the specific airframe, it may potentially cost more downtime and more money out of pocket.

Quality takes time and a good facility is likely to be booked weeks in advance, which means it will be extremely difficult to take drop-ins. Planning ahead is the best option when needing quality work done.

INTERIOR

A quality shop understands it is more than just finishing and moving on to the next project. It is about knowing the product and its limitations. For example, how a part is prepped can make all the difference. Does the panel need to hold its flexibility or can we repair it to be more rigid? Is there a certain way to seam a panel or a seat to extend the wear and longevity of the panel or seat? That is precisely what a customer should look for in a shop: some place that is going to take the time to look at each section of the interior and determine how to make it last longer to increase the value they are putting into the aircraft.

When prep work is not done properly, the materials will not wear as well as they should. If you are unsure about the origin of the work or the quality a particular shop provides, beware of an aircraft advertised with "new interior." Some shops just re-dye seats and use pre-cut carpet kits that may not fit well and show loose surging/threads, possibly unfinished edges and those solutions won’t hold up as well. It will have the new carpet and new leather smell but time will tell how long either will stand. Some shops take shortcuts; for instance when seats are re-dyed and not done properly, they can become sticky and even pull layers of dye off when conditions are right.

While refurbishing an aircraft, a quality facility should have the solutions to every detail, no matter how small. For instance, if doing partial refurbishment, will all the hardware match? Will they make sure there is a full set of throw rugs? Will the shop go above and beyond to create an excellent customer experience? Even the smallest of things will go a long way.

It may seem complicated but we have said this time and time again when doing an interior refurbishment; even a small change to an aircraft interior can affect a lot more than you think. Find a shop that focuses on the smallest of details, one that takes the time to really look at an aircraft to figure out what is best for that specific aircraft and airframe.

Having a facility that can handle any issues that arise, mechanical or otherwise is critical when repainting or refurbishing an aircraft. A shop with one trade may not be capable to handling issues that arise that aren’t in their field. Also keep in mind a facility that can do everything will have adequate "specialists" already on hand for each specific situation. Quality work that will lasts over time will pay for itself in the long run.

Adam Doyle joined Elliott Aviation in 2000 as an interior technician after graduating from Wyoming Technical Institute. While at Elliott Aviation, Adam has earned many different promotions on the shop floor including Install Team Lead, Soft Goods Team Lead, Assistant Interior Shop Manager and Seat Shop Manager. Adam’s most recent promotion has been to Paint and Interior Sales Representative for Elliott Aviation. He uses his experience with various vendors, products and processes to educate our clients by providing direction and helping plan for future investment with realistic and accurate figures.

12 Things to Know About Cold Weather Start Procedures in GA Aircraft


It’s cold out there. Winter days are often the best flying days, but it can be a pain to get your airplane started when it’s freezing outside. In addition, starting a cold-soaked engine can cause excessive engine damage in just the first minutes after engine start - damage that may not be evident initially but will significantly decrease your engine life. Preheating your aircraft engine will save you a lot of money on engine maintenance, as well as battery and starter wear and tear. Here are a few facts about cold weather operations in small general aviation aircraft:

  1. It’s not (just) about cold oil. According to this avweb.com article, cold oil isn’t really the main problem at all, at least not until the temperature gets below -18 degrees Celsius. While cold oil is more viscous than warm oil, the more important problem is the expansion and contraction of the engine’s different types of metal. Aircraft engines include many different types of metals - aluminum, steel, etc. - with different expansion coefficients. When heated or cooled, aluminum expands or contracts quicker than steel, so when the aluminum crankcase contracts more easily than the steel crankshaft (like in cold temperatures), you have little or no clearance between the two, causing metal-on-metal grinding, which isn't good.

  2. When not fully charged to begin with, a cold battery can mean a weak start, causing a pilot to crank on the starter more than he should in an attempt to start the engine. In a less-than-fully-charged battery, the chemical reaction is slowed when the temperature is cold which causes it to perform as if it has a lesser charge. This makes it more difficult to start an airplane that has a cold battery, and the continued cranking will be tough on the starter. Warming up the battery can reduce the demand on the battery and on the starter.

  3. Starting a cold engine can give it the equivalent of 500 hours of cruise wear and tear, according to this article on planeandpilot.com.

  4. Lycoming states that preheating your aircraft engine is required when the engine temperature is below +10°F/-12°C.

  5. Continental advises that preheating be done whenever the engine has been exposed to temperatures at or below 20° Fahrenheit for two hours or more.

  6. Lycoming also advises opening the cowl flaps, if necessary, during the preheating process, in order to reduce damage to nonmetal parts like hoses and wires.

  7. Preheating in increments of 5-10 minutes is best, in order to heat slowly and prevent overheating of nonmetal parts.

  8. When it comes times to start the engine, if it’s a carbureted engine, prime only when you’re ready to engage the starter. Allowing too much time to pass between priming and engaging the starter, or over-priming, can cause fuel from the primer to pool at the bottom of the carb heat box, presenting a fire hazard.

  9. After start, keep the engine at idle while the oil temperature and pressure increase to their normal operating ranges. Surges or fluctuations in engine RPM are an indication that the engine is still too cold and takeoff should not be attempted.

  10. Engines can be preheated with installed electrical heaters or forced air heaters, or by leaving the aircraft inside of a heated hangar for hours before the flight.

  11. When using a forced air preheating system, Continental suggests that you should direct preheated air directly to the oil sump, oil filter, external oil lines, oil cooler, coolant radiator and cylinder assemblies for a minimum of 30 minutes

  12. According to Continental, "Attempting to start your engine with a partially discharged aircraft battery may result in damage to the starter relay, possible engine kick-back resulting in a broken starter adapter clutch spring."

The 400E Program

By Meghan Welch – Interior Sales and Design Manager
Elliott Aviation

The 400E program is the next generation Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP upgrade. The program is a full Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP refurbishment including Garmin G5000 avionics with Lumatech LED master warning panel, Gogo WiFi with Gogo Vision (On-Demand-Movies), innovative exterior full paint design and a completely redesigned weight saving interior.

The Idea

As an Authorized Service Center with many Beechjet/Hawker 400XP customers, we have heard from various operators asking for an affordable update to their aircraft that also increases useful load. They also were in need of more headroom for their passengers along with entertainment options. Lastly, operators needed an avionics update to fulfill the 2020 ADS-B mandates. After much research, the 400E provides Beechjet/Hawker 400XP operators exactly what they were looking for.

Weight Saving Interior and Improved Functionality

The 400E program offers a completely redesigned interior that includes USB charging ports, redesigned cabinetry and variable color LED upwash and downwash cabin lighting all controlled through a mobile app. The newly designed shell kit is complete with a recessed headliner. The new shell kit creates a welcoming and more-open feel in the cabin with more headroom. The 400E program includes a redesigned arm ledge with LED accent lighting in the PSU’s, drink holders, window reveals, and toe-kick lighting. The electric window shades create the ease of light and comfort into the cabin. The variable LED lights add a multitude of atmospheres the user can create from a relaxing environment, to a cabin conference center, to a place to enjoy.

Other interior features include Gogo WiFi with Gogo Vision (On-Demand-Movies), allowing passengers the comfort of knowing they can have the option to continue their work while in flight or to kick back, relax and watch a movie or surf the web.

The Elliott team looked extensively into the weight savings options. By redesigning the forward baggage cabinet, we were able to use what was once unusable space. The redesign now allows useful storage and amenities while gaining a prep/serving area. With newly fabricated cabinetry, the team was able to lighten the front end.

Garmin G5000 Avionics

The Garmin G5000 avionics system is the latest system upgrade for Beechjet 400A and Hawker 400XP. With the new Garmin G5000 avionics system, there will not be a need for CASP or high yearly avionics maintenance cost. The system meets all ADS-B 2020 mandates and includes WAAS/LPV. Not only will it cut maintenance cost, but the system comes with touchscreen controls, synthetic vision, new LED displays, autopilot and XM weather. Lastly, the G5000 will cut weight of the aircraft as well.

The 400E program will allow Beechjet 400A and Hawker 400XP operators an affordable way to upgrade and will allow an increased usable payload, increased aircraft value, and increased comfort and interactive experience for passengers. After Elliott Aviation did the research, we are able to give Beechjet/Hawker 400XP operators what they asked for.

A completed Elliott Jets owned 400E will be available for viewing at the indoor static location of the annual NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition November 17th-19th in Las Vegas, NV.

Meghan Welch joined Elliott Aviation in 1998 as an Aircraft Sales Assistant and later helped build the paint and interior sales and design department in 2003. In 2007, she helped create the Design Center and was promoted to Interior Sales and Design Manager in 2015. Meghan has been successful in building a solid relationship with worldwide customers to personalize the interior of their aircraft to meet the customer’s functionality and style. Meghan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing and Finance from Augustana College.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

Properly Maintaining Your Aircraft Interior for Longer Life

By Adam Doyle – Pant and Interior Sales Manager
Elliott Aviation

When an aircraft interior is new or newly refurbished, it is easy to take it for granted. However, to keep your interior looking new, you have to make sure it is properly maintained from the day you take delivery. Maintaining your aircraft interior from the early stages can help extend its life and reduce costs of future refurbishments.

Knowledge is Power

The first thing you need to consider is that you will need to be fully aware of the manufacturers of the materials in your aircraft and what they recommend for cleaning their products. The information about the material manufacturers should be readily available from whoever completed or refurbished the interior.

Knowing what you can and cannot use on a material is the most critical component of keeping your interior in the best shape possible. For instance, many dyes and chemicals in leathers can have adverse chemical reactions to certain products. Unfortunately, if you happen to accidentally use the wrong type of product and it doesn’t work, there is little that can be done to fix it.

Re-Dyed Seats

Take special precautions when attempting to clean a re-dyed seat. While a reputable shop will get to the bottom layer of the leather before dying a seat, you may run into seats that have been re-dyed multiple times that have a sticky or nappy feel. When attempting to clean a re-dyed seat, especially one that has been re-dyed many times, make sure to start in an inconspicuous area.

Stain Blocking

When undergoing a refurbishment, you can request a stain blocking treatment to be applied by the company that is applying fire retardant to your materials. This can help save you time and headaches down the road by making stains easier to remove.

Ink Marks

A common troublesome stain you might see, and one we are most commonly asked about, is ink marks. Ink marks are easier to treat on fabric as the porous materials can allow you to have multiple treatments to "push" the ink through the fabric. On non-porous materials like some ultra leathers, if you can’t get out the ink mark out with the first treatment, it will never come out.

Other Stains

Regardless of the stain, it is critically important to understand what kind of stain it is. The makeup of the stain will determine how it is treated. By knowing what kind of stain you are treating, you are able to choose the right type of cleaner. If the type of stain you are dealing with requires a chemical cleaner, let the chemical do all of the work when treating it. Otherwise you run the risk of making it worse.

Carpet

As with other components of your interior, when dealing with cleaning your carpet, consult your carpet manufacturer on what types of chemicals are safe in treating your carpet. Unapproved chemicals can interfere with the flammability characteristics in your carpet. For tough stains, carpet stain extractors are available. Just make sure whatever you are using is approved by your carpet manufacturer.

Woodwork

For woodwork, whatever cleaning component you use should be based on the material makeup of your top-coat. Generally, polyurethane will not need much cleaning but, if you are using a chemical, be very sure that it is approved by the manufacturer as there are different blends of polyurethane. If your aircraft woodwork is laminate, most household cleaners should be okay to use.

Overall

Properly maintaining your aircraft interior starts with knowing what you can use to clean your material. Get your information from the manufacturers as to what is approved for use and make yourself a "cheat sheet" to keep with your aircraft documents. Keeping your interior clean will ensure you get the most life possible with the least amount of headaches.

Adam Doyle joined Elliott Aviation in 2000 as an interior technician after graduating from Wyoming Technical Institute. While at Elliott Aviation, Adam has earned many different promotions on the shop floor including Install Team Lead, Soft Goods Team Lead, Assistant Interior Shop Manager and Seat Shop Manager. Adam’s most recent promotion has been to Paint and Interior Sales Representative for Elliott Aviation. He uses his experience with various vendors, products and processes to educate our clients by providing direction and helping plan for future investment with realistic and accurate figures.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA). More information can be found at www.elliottaviation.com

Understanding the "What" and "Where" for Documenting Your Aircraft's Annual Inspection

If you own or operate an aircraft, you probably know that 14 C.F.R. §91.409(a) requires that an aircraft must undergo an annual inspection every twelve calendar months or sooner in order for that aircraft to be airworthy. But once that inspection is complete, what is your mechanic with an inspection authorization ("IA") required to do to document the annual inspection? What maintenance record entry is required and where must that entry be made?

Before we get to those questions, first it is important to understand to what the annual inspection applies. Section 91.409(a) states that an aircraft must receive an annual inspection in accordance with 14 C.F.R. Part 43. When we read Section 43.15(c), which governs annual inspections, we see, and the FAA tells us, that the annual inspection only applies to an aircraft. Specifically, that section requires that the annual inspection of your aircraft be performed using a checklist containing the scope and detail of items contained in Part 43, Appendix D. However, since Appendix D applies to the whole aircraft, including propeller and engine, it is the aircraft itself that receives the annual inspection rather than the individual components. This is true even though the engine and propeller assemblies are also inspected during the course of the annual inspection in accordance with Appendix D, paragraphs (d) and (h).

So, now that we understand the scope of the Section 91.409(a) annual inspection, and that it applies only to the aircraft as a whole, next we need to determine what maintenance record entry is required. 14 C.F.R. § 43.11(a) tells us that a "person approving or disapproving for return to service an aircraft, airframe, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, or component part after any inspection performed in accordance with part 91 . . . shall make an entry in the maintenance record of that equipment." Since annual inspections apply only to the aircraft, the person who approves or disapproves an aircraft for return to service after an annual inspection is performed must make an entry in the maintenance record of "that equipment," which, according to the FAA, means "the aircraft." Thus, a maintenance entry documenting completion of an annual inspection is required only for "the aircraft."

But, where is your IA supposed to make that entry? In the aircraft's logbook? In a maintenance logbook for equipment other than the aircraft, such as a logbook for the aircraft's propeller or engine? In both? To answer these questions, we need to look at 14 C.F.R. § 91.417 – Maintenance Records.

Section 91.417(a)(1) requires each registered owner or operator to keep maintenance records for each aircraft (including the airframe) and each engine, propeller, rotor, and appliance of an aircraft for the periods specified in Section 91.417(b). But Section 91.417 doesn't say anything about "where" those records are to be kept. The regulation doesn't require you to keep separate or individual records for the required items, nor does it require you to keep all of the maintenance records for the aircraft in a single logbook.

As a result, you may keep one logbook for all of the records for the aircraft and its appliances/components and that is acceptable to the FAA. In that situation your IA would document completion of the annual inspection for the aircraft in that one logbook. Alternatively, it may make sense for you to keep separate or individual logbook records for the aircraft's airframe and appliances/components which then comprise, collectively, the aircraft's records. In that situation, since your IA is only required to document the completion of the annual inspection for the aircraft, your IA may, but is not required to, document the completion of an annual inspection in each of the respective logbooks. This option is also acceptable to the FAA.

In fact, if you maintains multiple logbooks for the aircraft, the FAA suggests that it is probably good practice for your IA to document completion of an annual inspection in each of the respective logbooks. However, if your IA does document the completion of an annual inspection in the maintenance logbook for equipment other than your aircraft, the entry or record in the logbook should be specifically related to that appliance/component. For example, if your IA is going to document the annual inspection in the maintenance logbook for the aircraft's engine, he or she should use language such as "I certify that this engine has been inspected in accordance with an annual inspection and was determined to be in an airworthy condition."

However, it is important to note that this language is different than the language that would be used in the entry that your IA would make in the aircraft's logbook to document completion of the annual inspection and returning the whole aircraft to service rather than its individual components. In that case, your IA would use language referencing the "aircraft" rather than an individual appliance/component such as the engine or propeller. And in both cases the logbook entries would likely contain more detail regarding what was found during the inspection and any maintenance performed on the aircraft or appliance/component.

So, now we know both how and where your IA is supposed to document the annual inspection of your aircraft in order to comply with the regulations and keep the FAA happy. I'll save a more detailed discussion of what should and should not be included in maintenance entries for another day.

End of content

No more pages to load