Even the largest aircraft in the skies operates within a delicate balance – when you are up in the air, even minor part failures can lead to major disasters, and unlike in other industries, a part failure in an aircraft generally leads to fatalities and major loss of property. This is why all commercial and civil aircraft that is large, or turbine powered, must follow a strict, continuous inspection program. This is a program that is approved by airworthiness authorities, be it the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, the European Aviation Safety Agency in Europe, Transport Canada, or any other authorities in countries where a plane operates. These detailed inspections, often referred to as “maintenance checks” or “checks,” assure that planes continue to operate as expected.
There are four different checks set forth by the FAA:
- A Check – The most common check, it must be performed roughly every 500 flight hours. This is a fairly routine check that can often be completed during an overnight layover at an airport gate, and can even be delayed if certain conditions are met.
- B Check – Slightly more intensive than the A Check, the B Check is still able to be performed fairly quickly, to minimize downtime. It needs to be performed every 6 to 8 months, and is usually completed within 1-3 days at an airport hangar. Sometimes B checks may be incorporated into successive A checks.
- C Check – Much more comprehensive than the previous checks, this must be done every 20 months to two years. It requires a large majority of the aircraft’s components to be inspected individually, and can take up to two weeks to complete.
- D Check – The most thorough of them all, the D Check is a demanding check that is sometimes referred to as a “heavy maintenance visit.” It occurs every 5 to 6 years, and involves such thorough measures that it can be compared to taking the plane apart, checking everything down to the individual nut, fastener, wire, hinge, or component, and repairing, maintain, or replacing any parts that require it. This is an expensive undertaking, and many planes only have this done once or twice in their lifetime. This check can take up to 2 months to complete.
Here at WichiTech, we offer a number of instruments aimed at making your next aircraft maintenance check faster, more accurate, and all-around more beneficial to you and your company. This includes testers like the RD3 Electronic Digital Tap Hammer, a hand-held inspection instrument that can help detect impact damage, matrix degradation, delamination, and disbanding in composite and metallic aircraft structures. With available training kits and printers, this can help to cut time off of your checks without cutting corners, and keep your process moving smoothly to get back in the air.