Aircraft are complex in design with many working components and systems that make flight possible. As such, routine inspection and maintenance of aircraft is vital for safety and optimal function; however, the entire aircraft cannot be inspected in a single process. Instead, inspections are performed on separate areas of the aircraft by professionals who understand the unique characteristics of that specific section. Aircraft engines are one example of aircraft components that require their own special attention. For your better knowledge, this blog will explore the details of a thorough aircraft engine inspection.
For maintenance and inspection purposes, the turbine engine is divided into two sections: hot and cold. Professionals will then perform borescope inspections in which they look through a scope to search for any detectable defects inside the engine. It is wise to hire professionals with sharper skills as they will be more equipped to recognize subtle issues, such as a misplaced burner can, that can otherwise go unnoticed. When inspecting the cold section, or the compressor, it is important to inspect for blade damage typically caused by foreign debris entering through the air intake.
If blade damage goes unnoticed, it can lead to engine failure. When dirt or debris collects on the compressor blades, their aerodynamic efficiency is reduced because they become less sharp. This, in turn, leads to deterioration in engine performance. Through periodic inspection, cleaning, and repair of compressor components, these issues can be avoided and reduced. It is possible to repair minor damages done to axial-flow engine compressor blades if the damage can be removed without exceeding the allowable limits established by the manufacturer.
The turbine and combustion section, or the hot section, is the counterpart to the cold compressor section. To thoroughly perform an inspection on this part of the engine, professionals should follow a few general steps. First, it is important to inspect the entire external combustion case for evidence of hotspots, exhaust leaks, and distortions before the case is opened. Once opened, the combustion chambers should be checked for localized spots prone to overheating, cracks, or excessive wear.
Inside, the inspectors should check the first stage turbine blades, the outlet ducts, the turbine nozzle, and the nozzle guide vanes for any cracks, signs of warping, or foreign object damage (FOD). For essentially all aspects of engine inspection, a borescope is an invaluable tool. In fact, most manufacturers require a borescope inspection for certain parts, including the blades, fuel nozzles, ignitor, and others. The two most common types of borescopes used for inspection are rigid borescopes and flexible borescopes, each of which has its own benefits. While rigid designs provide the best views, flexible tubes work well for curved inspection areas.
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