Mastering Aircraft Maintenance During Winter

Get practical tips on aircraft battery preservation, lighting choice and corrosion avoidance as winter (with its specific challenges) descends upon the aviation industry.

AvBuyer  |  12th October 2023
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Mastering Aircraft Maintenance During Winter


As winter descends upon the aviation industry, aircraft maintenance takes on a new dimension of challenges. The colder months demand meticulous attention to detail to ensure the safety, performance, and longevity of aircraft. Amidst this seasonal shift, the spotlight falls on three paramount aspects: the art of battery preservation, appropriate lighting selection, and the relentless battle against corrosion. In this article, we delve into these vital dimensions, offering insights and expert tips that will help aviation professionals navigate the unique challenges of winter aircraft maintenance.

BATTERY PRESERVATION

Batteries are the lifeblood of modern aircraft, powering essential systems ranging from avionics to lighting. Cold weather can have a significant impact on battery performance and lifespan. Here's how to preserve aircraft batteries during the winter months: 

Regular Inspection: Prior to the onset of winter, conduct thorough inspections of all aircraft batteries. Check for signs of corrosion, loose connections, and physical damage. Replace any weak or damaged batteries to avoid unexpected failures during the colder months. 

Storage and Charging: If the aircraft will be parked for an extended period, consider removing the batteries and storing them in a temperature-controlled environment. Maintain a regular charging schedule to prevent them from discharging completely, as this can lead to irreversible damage. 

Cold Temperature Preheating: In extremely cold climates, invest in battery preheating systems. These devices warm up the batteries before startup, ensuring optimal performance and longevity. This step is particularly crucial for larger aircraft or those stationed in frigid regions. Check out McFarlane Aviation’s pre-heaters!

For longlasting power source, we recommend Concorde Batteries. 

For optimal performance of your Concorde RG® Series battery, consider these tips: If you fly infrequently or on short trips that don't fully recharge the battery, or if your aircraft has a parasitic load when not in use, follow the CMM for periodic boost charging. An approved temperature-compensated maintenance charger can also be used occasionally. However, avoid constant 24/7 charging with a maintenance charger, as this may shorten the battery's life. Typically, a weekly or monthly 24-48 hour charge using a maintenance charger is sufficient.

CHOICE OF AIRCRAFT LIGHTING 

Proper lighting is indispensable for flight safety, especially during the shorter days and longer nights of winter. The right choice of lighting can enhance visibility and reduce the risk of accidents. Here's what to consider

LED Lighting: LED lights have gained popularity due to their energy efficiency and reliability in cold weather. They illuminate instantly, even in sub-zero temperatures, making them ideal for aviation applications. Their lower power consumption also reduces the strain on the aircraft's electrical system. 

Visibility and Brightness: Winter weather often comes with reduced visibility due to snow, fog, and low light conditions. Choose lights that provide high brightness and excellent visibility to ensure that your aircraft remains visible to other pilots, ground personnel, and air traffic control. 

Anti-Icing Systems: Lighting systems are prone to ice buildup during winter. Opt for lighting solutions equipped with anti-icing features to ensure uninterrupted visibility. These systems prevent ice accumulation on the lights, maintaining their effectiveness throughout the flight. 

Position Lights: These red and green lights are vital for indicating an aircraft's orientation and direction. Ensure these lights are well-maintained and visible, especially in lowvisibility conditions that often accompany winter weather. 

Use the brilliance of WAT lights to get through the deepening darkness. 

The super-bright LED revolution brought to you by WAT (Whelen Aviation Technologies) provides superior lighting solutions in nearly every way compared to the old incandescent bulbs of the past. They offer outstanding light output, extremely high reliability, low heat output, and low power consumption. And the power consumption reduction is especially important when it comes to winter flights. In the LED realm, WAT leverages its huge presence in lighting and the ability to manufacture to TSO specs throughout the line. When it comes to illuminating wintry, frigid runways enveloped in darkness, we can warmly recommend Parmetheus™ Pro, an LED landing light of the WAT product line. This new and improved optic technology rivals and surpasses all LED offerings on the market. The Parmetheus™ Pro is external flasher friendly, lightweight, low current, moisture resistant and operates 14V-28V. The new innovations in optic design represent the WAT's commitment to providing state of the art technology to the Aviation industry. 

CORROSION AVOIDANCE 

Winter's combination of cold temperatures, moisture, and de-icing chemicals can accelerate corrosion on aircraft surfaces and components. Whether you operate your aircraft in winter or not, it is extremely prone to corrosion without proper care during the damp, cold season. Preventive measures are key to preserving the aircraft's structural integrity: 

Regular Cleaning: Regularly wash the aircraft to remove dirt, salt, and other contaminants that can promote corrosion. Focus on areas that are prone to accumulating debris, such as the landing gear and undercarriage. 

Protective Coatings: Apply corrosion-resistant coatings to exposed surfaces. This provides an additional layer of protection against the harsh winter elements. Pay close attention to areas where dissimilar metals come into contact, as these are more susceptible to corrosion. 

Inspections and Maintenance: Schedule frequent inspections to identify and address any signs of corrosion promptly. This includes checking for paint damage, surface pitting, and corrosion around fasteners. 

Protect your metal bird throughout the winter with ACF-50 anti-corrosion formula.

ACF-50 is ideal for your aircraft if you use it all year round in all weathers, as it is also a lubricant (without loosening structural attachments). However, if you’re a fair-weather pilot and your aircraft goes into hibernation during the winter months, applying ACF-50 will also prevent any moisture-induced damage during this period. ACF-50 actively penetrates and "creeps" into the tightest seams, lap joints, micro cracks, and around rivet heads, displacing moisture and other corrosive fluids in these areas. The treatment will actively eject any moisture that has edged into any crevices – moisture trapped in these gaps wouldn’t be able to freely evaporate on its own and will thereby trigger the corrosion process! 

CONCLUSION 

Winter aircraft maintenance demands a meticulous approach to ensure safe and reliable operations. By focusing on battery preservation, choosing appropriate lighting, and preventing corrosion, aviation professionals can mitigate the challenges seamlessly even in winter's frosty grasp. A proactive approach to maintenance during the colder months not only enhances aircraft performance but also extends the lifespan of critical components, promoting overall flight safety and operational efficiency 

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