Owning and operating an aircraft like Cessna is an exciting experience which comes with great responsibility. One of those responsibilities is to have your plane inspected regularly. It's also necessary to comply with all the aviation industry rules and regulations and maintain your airplane's airworthiness. It’s very likely that you will discover new details about your plane's condition, usefulness, and specific problems requiring immediate attention during the first year of ownership of your Cessna aircraft.
The first post-purchase annual inspection of your aircraft is a perfect opportunity for you to consult your aircraft mechanic and come up with a schedule for the renovation of your Cessna plane. It's vital that you consider all the performance and maintenance related issues and discuss them with your aircraft technician before beginning the first annual inspection. From a safety viewpoint, the state of your airplane engine is highly significant.
Determine Engine Health
A compression check helps in determining the health of the power or upper section of the aircraft engine where combustion takes place. Combustion exposes rings, pistons, vale, vale guides, and cylinder walls to a lot of heat and combustion by products.
A time-tested compression check involves a mechanic using the air pressure and compressed air gauges to ensure that the cylinder and its components provide sufficient sealing in the combustion gases. This sealing is meant to produce the required pressure to push the piston down, and lead to turning the crankshaft and rotating the propeller.
Possible leakage of these high-temperature gases past the valves or the ring assemblies and piston will lead to heat buildup, decrease engine performance, and augmented wear on these critical components.
Essential Tools For Tracking Engine Condition
The following are three best diagnostic tools that are highly effective in tracking aircraft engine condition:
A borescope is a state-of-the-art fiber-optic tube that's 18-inches long and has ½ inch diameter. It can be placed in an engine cylinder using a spark plug hole. A borescope helps in presenting a high-resolution color-correct photo on a bright screen, allowing an aircraft technician to evaluate the condition of the valves, piston crown, and cylinder walls.
Sometimes, an aircraft engine having good compression will undergo discoloration on valves or have stress marks on the cylinder walls that can only be observed using a borescope. Utilizing this tool helps technicians to address a potential problem before it becomes a cause of significant failure.
Another significant area that needs to be evaluated is the engine's bottom end - crankshaft, oil pump, connecting rods, camshaft, and others. The oil analysis tool can significantly enhance the technician's ability to assess an aircraft engine's health. When draining old oil out of the engine, an oil sample is collected and sent to a lab for analysis.
After testing, the laboratory returns the aircraft mechanic a detailed report, indicating the percentage of metal residue present in the oil, listed by type of metal, and measured in parts per million. The presence of iron usually shows wear on the oil pump gears - silver generally indicates wear on the plain bearing like crankshaft or connecting rod main bearings - bronze typically indicates wear on valve guides.
An aircraft expert technician can track and learn about the general trends of wear on different internal engine parts with increased engine hours and more oil samplings. In case of a high reading regarding a particular metal, the mechanic can utilize this vital information to spot a potential point of failure and begin the correct maintenance task.
A digital engine monitor has significantly helped monitor the piston engine operation and maintenance with data download functionality. These highly effective systems allow their users to download and analyze valuable information and track engine condition trends.
Other items to evaluate during the first aircraft annual inspection include:
- Hoses: It's vital to assess the age and condition of the oil, fuel, and vacuum flex hoses
- Engine Accessories: It's essential to monitor the status and service life of engine accessories
- Magnetos: These highly critical components usually require a 1000-hour overhaul or 500-hour half-life inspection- with scheduled maintenance, you can increase the reliability of these vital components
- Vacuum Pumps And Propeller Governors: The dry vacuum pumps typically have an increased failure rate after 500 hours of operation - it's best to overhaul propeller governors at the time of the engine change