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Category Archive: Aircraft

Growth of the U.S. Airline Industry

In the wake of the rebound from the global economic crisis, one of the many areas that have seen a regrowth is the global airlines industry. The U.S. airlines industry is leading this regrowth, showing the biggest increases among airline industries around the world. This has, in turn, created greater demand, and has resulted in greater profits as well for U.S. airline companies as more flights are leaving runways on a regular basis.

Why Has the Rebound Been So Great?

Three major factors have led to the rebound, and will be counted on for further growth in the sector.

  • More People Travelling: The key factor to growth is clearly more passengers taking to the air, and there has certainly been an ongoing rise in that area. From increasing business travel, to more families willing and able to use airlines for vacationing, there has been a steady rise. This spring, for example, it is expected that the number of passengers will be up roughly 2.8% over last year. This is seen as small but sustainable growth.
  • Lower Fuel Prices: From 2014 to 2015, the average cost for one gallon of jet fuel dropped by nearly one dollar. Various airlines have used this to their advantages, in differing ways. Some, like the growing low-cost airline Spirit, have used it to pass savings on to the passengers and get more seats sold. Others have reinvested the savings into better equipment, improved training, share buybacks, and other business areas.
  • Better Business Strategy: The industry has evolved greatly over the years, particularly with the development of low cost airlines and the growth and development of new routes that has not been used before. Airlines have also invested in larger yet more fuel-efficient aircrafts, while developing how they manage cargo and passengers, in order to further streamline operations and either save money, or increase earnings.

One side effect of this industry growth is that planes are seeing more operational cycles, and will require testing more often – testing that will require tools such as our Tap Hammer testing device, to detect voids, degradation, and delamination in composite structures. With so many people depending on proper testing and readings for their travel safety, we take pride in knowing that we are continually developing and producing the best product to ensure the planes are still in full flying condition. At WichiTech we look forward to providing the equipment for composite repair to a growing airlines industry.

Aircraft Maintenance Checks

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.