For much of the history of manufacturing, steel has been the material of choice for manufacturing ball bearings. Modern steel bearings are typically made from either 52100 steel or 440C stainless steel. However, steel has one major weakness: it rusts. This makes steel a poor choice for any application that involves large amounts of water, such as food processing, swimming pools, boating, and medical applications. Plastic bearings, on the other hand, are easily machined or molded for such purposes, and have several advantages over conventional steel. In this blog, we will list several of those advantages.
Weight is a concern in numerous applications, especially aviation. Plastic is five times lighter than steel, thereby reducing the energy required to move them.
Corrosion is a serious issue for metal bearings, which often require special treatment to be able to operate safely for long periods of time. Plastic ball bearings can operate in environments inimical to steel, such as sea water, silicon wafer processing, and swimming pools.
Metal bearings require lubrication to reduce friction, dissipate heat, and prevent corrosion. Plastic, however, has no metal on metal contact, which results in less friction. Additionally, the liquids that plastic bearings operate in can dissipate heat and act as lubricant.
Because of its greater elasticity compared to metal, plastic is better at absorbing vibrations. This is helpful in both shock absorption and sound dampening, especially when supplemented with lubrication.
Plastic bearings typically operate cleaner than metal bearings because they do not need lubrication, are resistant to corrosion, and can be washed without worrying about re-lubing. This makes them an option for clean room environments, and wash-down applications.
Magnetism is a serious concern in equipment such as MRI x-rays and similar sensors vulnerable to magnetic distortion. Bearings made entirely from plastic, however, are completely nonmagnetic.
Maintaining an aircraft is far more than washing the exterior and cleaning up the interior of the cabin. The maintenance cycle can be defined by various levels, each named with an alphabetical letter in progressing levels of complexity. Check A is the most routine, taking no more than an hour or two. Check C on the other hand, is a far more extensive checking of independent aircraft components, functions, tooling, and equipment.
Before flight, the pilot or mechanic is required to visually check the aircraft components and instruments. Access panels should be inspected for any obvious signs of damage. Oxygen systems and emergency lighting must also be checked to ensure they are functioning properly. Inside the cockpit, the pilot should verify that the brake accumulator pressure is correct. To help understand the various check stages, this blog will track one particular aircraft component throughout the check stages. The reciprocating engine is the main component of a jet therefore requires adherence to correct safety regulations. During Check A, the pilot cannot fully inspect the aircraft engine, but can check for any instrument irregularities.
Both Check A and Check B are known as lighter checks and can be performed at Fixed Base Operators such as the airport. Check B may require special equipment or tests to determine the status of a system of component. Disassembly is not necessary during this check. Engine diagnostic equipment is an example of a specialized kit that may be used during check B.
Heavier checks are contracted out to Maintenance Repair and Overhauls facilities (MRO)s. The aircraft is disassembled and categorized into parts. Each component is checked for any physical irregularities such as cracks, corrosive damage, heat damage, or dents. If a part has any of these, it is replaced. Specialized equipment and checks are needed to successfully carry out this stage of testing. Hardware such as seals, aircraft stabilizers, and bolts also need to be tested and verified.
The FAA has the final say in terms of the safety of the aircraft. Title 14, Section 19, of the FAA Code of Federal Regulations states that no person can operate an aircraft unless it had both an annual inspection and an inspection for the issuance of an airworthiness certificate. Each person carrying out the 100-hour inspection is required to fill out a checklist that includes the scope of work and details of the item they are checking. Further regulations for aircraft maintenance, specifically turbine-engine-powered aircraft, are set forth in Part 43 of the CFR. After the 100-hour inspection is complete, but before the aircraft is returned to service, the turbine engine must be run to determine satisfactory performance in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Finally, everything and anything to do with the maintenance of the aircraft must be documented. If a part is classified as ‘life limited’ by design, the part must be replaced within a specific timeframe. The life status of a part is the accumulated cycles, hours, or replacement limit of a part. With both of these classifications, a mechanic can identify which parts will need a replacement, regardless of their physical condition. The maintenance of a jet engine is highly regulated process that cross references the physical condition of the aircraft on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis with the written documentation of the previous conditions and of the aircraft. The FAA will only deem the aircraft airworthy when every one of the regulations are met.
Have you ever looked down on a city from a vantage point and marveled at all of the tiny little buildings below, interconnected by intricate streets and sidewalks? Each and every building serves a purpose. The streets that intertwine the city allow people to travel from one part to the other, making all the buildings accessible. The way cities are arranged, their interconnectivity, and their accessibility all contribute to the vibrancy of it and make it so much more than the sum of its individual parts. The same concept can be applied to electronic equipment.
Electronics are packed with elements that function differently but are linked together by cables or printed metal connections— these elements are like buildings, while the electrical system is like cities. Electronic circuits are built from a small number of standard components, and similar to a LEGO, you can arrange these components together in a vast number of ways to complete an array of jobs. Fundamental electronic components include resistors, diodes, capacitors, transistors, and relays.
Resistors are the simplest part in any circuit. Their main function is to limit the flow of electrons and decrease the current (voltage) that is flowing by transforming electrical energy into heat. Resistors can come in any different size or shape, and choosing one depends on specific application requirements. Devices that have volume controls are known to use variable resistors that contain a dial on them and can be manually operated.
Diodes are comparable to one-way streets in a city; electric currents flow through them strictly in one direction. Sometimes diodes are referred to as rectifiers. These diodes also have the special ability to change alternating currents into direct currents.
Capacitors are designed with simplicity in mind, similar to resistors. They consist of two pieces of conducting material separated by a non-conducting material referred to as a dielectric. Capacitors are commonly used in timing devices; however, they can transform electrical currents in multiple ways.
Transistors can function in various ways; they can switch electric currents on and off or amplify them as a whole. In computers, transistors that act as switches mainly serve memory functions. When they act as amplifiers, they can boost the volume in items such as radios. When two transistors are combined together, they form a new device called a logic gate. These logic gates are effective in carrying out basic decision-making processes.
In layman's terms, a relay is essentially an electrically operated switch. Relays use an electromagnetic mechanism to operate the switch it is assigned to. This isn’t the case for all of them though; other relays can function with solid-state technology that sends a small external voltage which triggers the on and off tool. Relays have the ability to control a high current circuit with a low current signal. They can also sense when there is a malfunction in the power distribution system. You can find relays in computers, home appliances, traffic control systems, telecommunications, automobiles, and many other electronically powered products.
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The aerospace industry in the United States is highly regulated in all areas. Whether you’re flying in a trainer aircraft, commercial airliner, or military aircraft, each of them has gone through a series of tests to become certified as airworthy. In comparison to civil and commercial aircraft, military aircraft are subject to faster speeds, extreme temperatures, and quick maneuvers. As such, military parts require particularly complex standards due to them. nature in which they operate. The military will only allow the best products to be used on their aircraft— and there is no room for error Regulations cover everything from the nuts and bolts used on an aircraft to the main structural components. Electronics, wires, cables, seatbelts, etc., are all well-regulated.
The Department of Defense (DOD) creates standardized objectives that result in what we call military standard, MIL-STD, MIL-SPEC, or MilSpecs. These standards are set in place to help achieve interoperability, quality, commonality, reliability, etc. Military parts are categorized in various ways, but one of the vital classifications that protect defense products are the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITARs). It restricts and controls the export of defense and military-related technologies to protect sensitive parts. Companies have to be certified to produce or sell any of these products.
The DOD is not the only governing body to influence aircraft manufacturing and maintenance for the military. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs all aspects of aerospace through the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs). Title 14 of the CFRs covers Aeronautics and Space and is where FAR documentation is located. Some of the additional federal regulations that cover military requirements are located in Title 32- National Defense and Title 49- Transportation.
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Both delay-on-make timers and delay-on-break timers are classified as time delay relay systems. In other words, these components are considered control relay devices with time delay functions built in. Though both mechanisms are not typically noticeable, we see them quite often in everyday life. When you step through a door and a fan overhead turns on, you’ve activated a delay-on-make. If you’ve adjusted a thermostat or air conditioning system, you have encountered a delay-on-break. Electronic parts manufacturers label both systems under the same umbrella because the processes of these electronic part types are essentially the same, but the results differ.
Delay on make and delay on break systems follow this basic formula:
The electronic parts are activated or triggered by the application of voltage or activation of an input signal. These activators are either an external switch or the flux of power voltage.
A relay coil is triggered and energized.
A designated time countdown is involved (delay).
When time runs out (break) or the input signal is removed (make), the relay coil is no longer energized.
The temporary activation of a door fan is best equipped with a delay on make because the fan requires the power of a motor to start. A delay on make is specifically designed to prevent a motor or mechanism, from short-cycling. It stays on for a predetermined amount of time after the door closes, just in case someone enters soon after. This capability is accomplished through the time delay relay function of the delay relay functions.
A delay on break within a thermostatworks a bit differently, it often depends on the engagement of a switch or button. When you adjust the temperature, there is a basic system that programs how long to delay the temperature adjustment. A delay on break is the activator in the thermostat that gives it the ability to adjust temperature periodically. The delay on break plays an integral role in this process, as it allows you to reset the timer if the external or normally open switch (N.O.) is activated for a consecutive time.
Overall, these useful little components enable much of our convenient day to day devices. Time delay on make and time delay on break mechanics, in terms of making it or breaking it, certainly make it aselectronic parts that have aided in the advancement of today’s electronic technology.
When buying electronic parts, there are many factors to consider. It’s important to be able to find the aviation components you need without unnecessarily overpaying, and to be sure you are purchasing the right product.
The first step is to search the market for pricing, availability, and lead times if the product is out of stock. The most efficient way to do this is to use aggregator websites. Here, potential customers can see distributors’ listings and compare prices and availability all on the same site. It’s much more efficient to use these types of sites rather than Google, because you can find many electronic parts distributors who stock the part without going back and forth between the multiple sites Google generates. Not to mention, Google search results are not always reflective of popularity or relevance thanks to features such as Google Ads.
It’s better to reach out to smaller distributors rather than large-scale distributors. Larger organizations sound appealing because they will almost always have stock for the part and be able to deliver quickly. However, this usually means they can charge higher premiums for their services. Smaller authorized distributors will also carry stock and provide same-day shipping. Also, they tend to have lower prices. Speaking to a sales representative over the phone and forming a connection may even help bring the cost of parts down.
You will want to make sure, when you’re ready to purchase, that you are buying from an authorized distributor, regardless of whether they are large- or small-scale. The additional step of requesting certification for the part in question is a good idea for product verification and quality assurance. Although non-authorized distributors may have stock when authorized distributors do not, they may not be able to provide certifications without an added cost. Ultimately, the safest bet is to buy straight from the manufacturer or from their list of authorized distributors.
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The most important part of an aircraft engine, arguably, is the lubrication system. But it’s also the most vulnerable. Generally, lubrication systems are recirculatory. Fresh oil is introduced to the lubrication system and met with bearings, seals, and gears that wear and erode, producing abrasive contaminants. The oil flushes them away and carries them to the scavenge oil flow away from the sump where they are almost completely filtered out.
Thus, the oil can go through and be resupplied into the system. Unfortunately, because the oil has to pass through small holes and passages, even the smallest particles can block the oil flow and cause lubrication failure if it’s not properly filtered.
Normally, fresh oil will gradually dissolve contaminants and hold microscopic particles in suspension such that there is a normal level of contamination reflective of the condition of the system. Larger than normal particles can be collected by the filter, but because the filter inspection intervals are too long, these particles can have ample time to cause further damage. As a result, magnetic chip detectors are often installed in the scavenge oil flow of each sump or in the common scavenge line downstream of the pumps. Because the gears and bearings are made of steel, the magnetic chip detector can easily collect particles from 0.02 to 1 mm in size. The chip detector has to be regularly checked and maintained, and the particles can be sent to a lab for analysis.
Another tool for monitoring lubrication systems is the Spectrometric Oil Analysis Program (SOAP). As a maintenance tool that uses an emission spectrometer to check the condition of oil lubricated mechanical systems, SOAP can analyze the specific elements and concentration of particles from 0.001 to 0.02 mm in size. There’s always a certain level of normal contaminants, but periodic analysis with SOAP will show any increases in particle concentration or size, which will indicate if there is increase in wear or damage. When used with a magnetic chip detector, SOAP is a very useful tool in engine maintenance and repair.
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In an interview with Hush-Kit, the alternative aviation magazine, Bing Chandler, a former Lynx Observer from the Joint Helicopter Command and the British Army Air Corps Center, talks about his top 10 attack helicopters.
10. Eurocopter/Airbus Helicopters Tiger, a Franco-Germain effort, earns the number 10 spot because of a very cool scene in the James Bond film, Goldeneye.
9. HAL Light Combat Helicopter, an Indian copter developed with the help of the former MBB, has unknown potential despite its typical formulaic design.
8. Denel Rooivalk, a massive South African copter with an empty weight of 5739 kg, is able to operate for prolonged periods without sophisticated support (because of the arms embargo enacted on South Africa by the UN for its apartheid policies).
7. Agusta/Augusta Westland/Leonardo Helicopters Mangusta, an Italian copter, also has a formulaic design, but has been continuously upgraded and improved.
6. CAIC Z-10, a multi-national effort also with a formulaic design, has proven itself a pretty effective light attack helicopter.
5. Kamov Ka-50/52, a Russian copter, despite its limited maneuverability, is noted for its unique design and for being the world’s first copter with a rescue ejection system.
4. Mil Mi-24/25/35, a Russian copter, the Mil Mi-24/25/35 has seen a lot of conflict since the Ethiopian insurgencies in 1978 and had many chances to prove itself with its speed, tough armor, weaponry, and ability to deploy up to 8 troops.
3. Mil Mi-28N, a successor to the Mil Mi-24 that didn’t garner much interest from the Russian government, has had continuous development that not only improved the navigation equipment, but allows for night and all-weather operation.
2. Bell AH-1Z Viper, based on the SuperCobra, is a copter that has taken a legacy of excellence and managed to make it better, reducing vibration levels, adding weapons, etc.
1. Hughes/McDonnell Douglas/Boeing AH-64D/E Apache/Guardian, the most famous and most prolific of attack copters, has been the standard to beat since its first flight about 50 years ago as a result of continuous development and upgrades.
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The structure of aircraft has changed enormously over the last century, with most changes being made to aeronautical engineering. Almost every aspect of creating and designing an aircraft has changed. Changes have been made to aerodynamics, engineering, navigation aids, interior fittings and structural design. The first successful flight conducted by the Wright brothers was powered by a small light engine that wouldn’t weigh down the structure of the aircraft itself. The first jet engine, a heavier type of engine, was created and used during WWII. Since then, the structure of the aircraft has completely changed and is still changing today.
The first aircraft were designed with wire braced structures. Every component of the aircraft including the wings to the frame were constructed of wire. The plane was designed with a biplane construction and included lightweight materials such as bamboo and spruce. The era of these aircraft lasted until the 1930’s until metal structure aircrafts started dominating the market. During the 1930’s most planes were constructed with thin metal sheets and were manufactured to a monoplane design.
Today’s aircraft are mainly constructed using a semi-monocoque design. The creation of this smooth aerodynamic design was derived from the design of a yacht. The main advantage of this design is the wings being an active load-carrying member of the entire structure, instead of being an added load. This makes the entire structure multifunctional and less likely to require maintenance.
Novel designs are a design of the future. The concepts created for novel designs include only lightweight materials and are extremely fuel efficient. Researchers and aircraft experts predict it will be a long while before these concepts become a reality.
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UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS), operating under United Technologies, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of aerospace and defense products. UTC develops, manufactures and delivers parts to some of the biggest names in the aerospace industry. As a premier Boeing parts supplier and Airbus parts supplier, UTC has been hit hard with increases in production rates demanded by these OEMs.
UTC’s CEO, Greg Hayes, said during the company’s first-quarter 2018 earnings call,
“At Pratt & Whitney we are at rate 55 with geared turbofan engines...and we have committed to take the rate up over the next couple of years. But for the second- and third-tier suppliers, I question if the sub-tiers really have enough capacity. If we are going to see big jumps in A320neo and 737 production rates, it will be a problem, so you will see big bottlenecks.”
One of UTC’s major issues with this increase is not just a shortage of available materials, but the company’s deficiency of skilled production personnel who are capable of handling orders of this magnitude. OEMs including Airbus and Boeing, and other UTC-related companies, are showing backlogs as long as seven years for narrowbodies, which will be a near-impossible feat to complete without a strong production team.
UTAS’s electronic systems are generating lower margins for new-generation aircraft than they do for older generation aircraft. The newer systems use fewer moving parts, making them more reliable overall, but less than expeditious. Recently, UTAS’s CEO stated the company is “very focused on lean manufacturing techniques to continue to take margins out as older aircraft are replaced by newer, lower-margin” ones.
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