Manufactures have structural manuals for technicians to repair composite airplane parts. Previously, manufacturers limited the size of the repair on composites to ensure the structural security of the part. Now that there are more and larger composite parts for airplanes, the requirements have opened up for bigger repairs and that’s an issue that we as an industry need to address. At Heatcon we’re making larger heat blankets and products that can be used on newer aircraft structures.

What are some examples of common aerospace repairs?

Common repairable parts are secondary structures such as radomes, flaps and controlled surfaces for aircraft. On helicopters there are blade repairs and others from high heat or heat induced damage. Examples of damages we see in the field are from moisture damage when water gets through a crack in the surface. We’ll find parts of the plane are frozen or have water damage in places. There are also failures due to contamination when you have oils or solvents like hydrolic oil can cause damage and cracking around fasteners. Then there’s the wear and tear damage from hail, ground damage, luggage cart or service vehicle into the side. The problem with commercial aircrafts is dealing with the high usage parts for loading cargo and passengers.

How long does it take to repair parts?

It depends. Short repairs can take a few hours for small damage, using a resin sweep to repair a scratch on the surface. The Federal Aviation Administration has requirements for temporary repair. Extensive repair can take a week or a couple of weeks depending on the type of repair. I’ve actually never seen a study on average repair time. Part of the reason it’s so difficult to define is that it’s expensive to keep an airplane down for long periods of time. Technicians need to make a decision on whether or not to replace a part or do temporary repair. In the meantime, they typically replace the part to get it off the plane and bring the part in for repair. It ends up being another time concern for temporary fixes to ultimately take the time for a longer repair.