Think about the constant, tremendous stress on an airplane in flight. Airplane repair must be a careful and reliable endeavor to ensure passengers and crew safety and to meet the world’s highest safety compliance standards.
Choosing a strategy for airplane repair requires diligence and near-ridiculous attention to detail for your planes to continue performing like champs. Trusting cold spray technology in your airplane repair is a wise choice.
Below, we’ve outlined several common airplane repair challenges and how cold spray technology can help you professionally and safely manage your aircraft maintenance.
Find out how Mid-America Aerotech can provide faster, market-competitive, and safer airplane repairs using advanced Cold Spray technology. Contact us and discover why more aerospace companies choose Mid-America Aerotech.
Results Of Poor Airplane Repair Strategy
Less-than-perfect airplane repairs can cost lives, money, and livelihoods. The stakes are, of course, extra high when keeping flying machines in top-notch condition.
The initial airplane design must be spot-on to guarantee safe, comfortable, and efficient flights day after day. Any repair materials should be compatible with the substrate for the various loading, temperatures, and environments airplanes experience without adding significant extra weight or any risk of failure.
A repaired joint affects other areas of the airplane. A joint that’s too-weak won’t hold the necessary load. A joint that’s too-stiff may stress and weaken other parts and pieces of the plane over time.
Welding, machining, or high-temp thermal sprays present a tricky repair methodology for metal and aluminum alloys in airplanes. The high heat and quick cooling of these processes can disrupt the atomic copper-and-aluminum structure of conventional airplane aluminum alloys, leading to compromised strength.
Cold spray technology can bond particles to the metal without adverse heat effects and reduce the need for riveted doubler repairs.
Cold Spray And FAA Approval
There are two types of airplane repairs relevant to cold spray technology: non-structural and structural.
Cold spray repairs are FAA-compliant for after-market non-structural aircraft components. Some structural repair opportunities for secondary structures have also been identified.
For this post, structural repairs comprise maintenance to the airplane’s load-bearing portions, like the fuselage, wings, and other metal components. Non-structural restoration refers to airplane parts within the plane that isn’t necessary to maintain and sustain flight.
Some damage to engine parts, landing gear components, and other essential and non-essential parts are required for safe and reliable operation and can still fit under “non-structural” aircraft components. It all depends on the location and extent of the damage.
Cold spray repairs present cost-saving solutions and increase the lifespan of numerous non-structural parts.
For a damaged APU gearbox, here is an example cold spray repair process schematic:
- Assess the extent of the gearbox damage
- Machine damaged segments, if needed, to create a smooth surface
- Clean and mask the damaged gearbox surface
- Apply cold spray where needed
- Machine the repaired surface to the desired finish
- Apply any final required surface finishes (i.e., paint, anodize)
Comparing the above schematic to the 9-step process of conventional welding or high-temp thermal spray repair, you can see cold spray presents a speedier and safer way to repair airplane components.
Current State Of Cold Spray Airplane Repairs
Currently, cold spray technology in airplane repair has several practical applications with its basic, low-pressure systems. Valves, pumps, and engine components have benefited from cold spray repair processes since 2009.
Cold spray repairs can increase the amount of time between successive repairs and maintain tight bore tolerances of .0005 inches on critical dimension repairs.
The Future Of Cold Spray And Structural Airplane Repair
Airplane repair companies can look forward to a time when the FAA approves the use of cold spray for even structural airplane repair.
The advantages of airplane structural repairs with cold spray include:
- Fewer steps from the damage assessment to repair completion
- The elimination of alloy damage from welding or thermal spray repairs
- Increasing the lifespan of metal and alloy parts
- Reduction in the costs associated with part replacement over part repair
- Repairs can often proceed without removing a piece from a plane or a component from its shipping box, saving significant hours of labor
Airplane Cold Spray Repairs
Cold spray has enjoyed massive success in non-structural aircraft repairs. Experience has shown that cold spray can significantly cut costs and downtime for a variety of airplane components.
Gaining FAA approval for structural repairs with cold spray can revolutionize the aircraft repair industry by streamlining the repair process, lengthening part life, and meeting the highest safety standards of any industry.
Cold spray technology in airplane repair is an evolving, exciting, and innovative solution that can help large airlines and flight hobbyists alike improve and increase the life of their machines.
Mid-America Aerotech is a certified FAA repair station located in West Fargo, North Dakota. Our team services the military, aerospace, commercial industries, and helicopters, and privately-owned airplanes.
We offer cold spray repairs, production, and material testing. Contact us today for your aerospace repairs.