The Work of Aircraft Maintenance
Aerial transportation has existed for many years, but today’s air transport industry has come a long way since 19th century blimps or the Wright Brothers’ airplane flight of 1903. Today, helicopters, jets, airplanes, and more are taking to the skies every day around the world, and these powerful machines need inspection and maintenance to stay in fine working order. In the case of helicopters and planes in particular, there are propellers or rotors hard at work during flight, and their constant movement may create vibrations during operation. There is an entire field for making sure that helicopters and airplanes are not damaging themselves or losing flight accuracy due to such vibration. For this reason, many technicians across the United States are assigned to monitor vibrations or fan balance, and aircraft maintenance can be made much easier this way. Vibration analysis is something to take seriously, and helicopter vibration analysis can be done with a portable vibration analyzer, for example. Technicians, with the help of a portable vibration analyzer, can determine if an aircraft may soon damage itself with excessive vibrations. With a portable vibration analyzer, a chopper can get corrected before its next flight. This can help a avert disaster.
Why might a helicopter need a portable vibration analyzer used on it between flights? These vehicles must stay steady during their operation, and unexpected and unintended motions and energy may send a helicopter off course or even send it crashing to the ground. Helicopters today assume many different roles. Some of them are working for the military, and have weapons and armor for combat and often transport infantry. The Vietnam War, for example, was famous for its generous use of helicopters, and these vehicles are still useful for the American military today. In more peaceful applications, helicopters may be used by news crews or documentary makers to aerial views of a landscape or event, or helicopters may be flown for the sheer enjoyment of it. Other times, helicopters may be used for giving aerial tours, such as in Hawaii or Alaska. And of course, helicopters are very useful as aerial rescue vehicles, which can often lower carrying beds on winches to rescue an injured survivor of a storm or disaster. These helicopters are often used in mountainous areas or at open sea.
No matter where or how they are being used, helicopters must be kept in good shape. Fortunately, there are many skilled pilots and maintenance workers today who can keep them in good shape for their next flight. This industry is a big one; the FAA has estimated that aviation, overall, supports some 10,600,000 jobs in the United States every year, including helicopters. This huge industry sees a lot of action; in 2015, for example, an estimated 24,214,000 generation aviation flight hours had been logged for aircraft of all types. Down on the ground, nearly 131,500 aircraft mechanics and assorted service technicians are hard at work as of 2017. Their work may vary, from refueling to replacing damaged landing gear.
Helicopters, meanwhile, are sensitive to momentum and wind, given their light bodies and lack of extreme forward speed to stabilize them like a jet might have. Instead, the vibrations that the rotors create must be carefully monitored in case they become excessive. There is a scale to measure aircraft vibration. On this scale, vibrations are measured by inches per second, or IPS. It may range from 0 to 1.2 inches, and 0.0-0.2 IPS is considered “very good” for industry standards. The higher the IPS, the rougher the flight is, and this can even be a serious hazard. On the upper end of the scale, 1.01-1.2 IPS is considered not just rough, but fully dangerous for the aircraft. Vibration this strong must be tested and checked ahead of time while the vehicle is still grounded, or else it may go out of control and threaten the lives of everyone on board. This is why a portable vibration analyzer might be used: to test how strong a helicopter’s vibrations are. Based on the results, it may be necessary and even urgent for repair crews to get their hands on the helicopter and correct the source of the vibrations.