One of the most enjoyable things to love about air flight is the sensation of being free of the ground and gliding smoothly through the air. The last thing you want to be thinking about when flying your airplane is an aircraft propeller overhaul. Your focus should be on the experience of flight and those enjoying it with you.
Unwanted vibrations can ruin the feeling of freedom and make flying less pleasant for both the pilot and any passengers. Vibrations can result in discomfort as well as the loss of revenue in the case of commercial pilots hoping for repeat passengers. Unwanted vibrations can result in passengers feeling unsafe and taking actions such as leaving negative reviews or taking their business elsewhere.
Vibrations from the aircraft propeller can also have an impact on cargo in the plane as it is shaken and shifts during flight. Vibrations could cause fragile cargo to break, or essential parts of the aircraft damaged over time. Improperly balanced aircraft propellers can drive up maintenance costs.
Aircraft propeller static balancing after the initial point of manufacturing the plane is typically done during aircraft propeller overhaul. Stockton Propeller is a full-service maintenance facility that can help you with your propeller overhaul or any other needed maintenance.
What is Aircraft Propeller Static Balancing?
Aircraft propeller static balancing at a basic level ensures that the propeller is moving evenly through the air as it rotates. When conducting the balance, each propeller blade is weighed to make sure that it weighs the same as all of the others. Each part of the propeller weighing the same ensures that gravity will affect each part of the propeller evenly as it rotates through the air.
An uneven weight distribution during rotation will cause the propeller to vibrate. Even if the pilot or passengers of the plane cannot feel the vibrations themselves, the vibrations can have an impact on the engine. Pilots may accept vibrations as merely a part of the way in which the airplane’s engine works.
Pilots should consider having a static propeller balancing conducted prior to feeling any vibration. Pilots may not be able to notice any vibration or notice any changes that develop over time. Performing a static propeller balancing can avoid future maintenance issues.
How is an Aircraft Propeller Static Balance Done?
When professionals at a place like Stockton Propeller conduct a static propeller balance during an aircraft propeller overhaul, they remove the propeller from the aircraft. Then the propeller is mounted on a device called a mandrel, which allows the propeller to spin freely.
A properly balanced propeller should be able to move quickly. According to Bellwood Rewinds Limited, if turned slightly after a static balance is done, an object should stay in that location. This process is done the same way very much as tire balancing on a vehicle.
In an improperly balanced propeller, the weighty spot will be pulled by gravity downward. This allows the maintenance facility to discover unbalanced areas and fix them. Weights are added or subtracted from the area of the propeller hub nearest to the misbalanced propeller blade, which corrects the imbalance.
After the Propeller Static Balance is Completed
Once a propeller is evenly balanced, the maintenance staff will conduct what is known as a “blade track.” Each of the propeller’s blades path through the air is tracked and monitored. Workers mark where the blade tip passes an object, such as a track pointer or a spot on the wall. A properly tracking propeller should have each blade passing at the same location. Even a difference of 1/16th of an inch is too far.
If a propeller blade is out of track, then the “angle of attack” will be slightly different from the others when flying. This different angle can cause vibrations due to it moving through the air in a different path. A propeller that is out of alignment can mean that it was damaged, an issue which should be investigated further.
The Difference Between Static and Dynamic Propeller Balancing
Aside from static propeller balancing, which should always be performed, there is another common type of propeller balancing– dynamic propeller balancing. Although not absolutely necessary, dynamic balancing “fine tunes” the balance.
Even small imbalances that are not noticeable to the pilot can cause damage to components such as instruments, radios, cowling and baffles and reduces the efficiency of the propulsion system. Unlike static propeller balancing, dynamic propeller balancing is conducted while the engine and propeller are in motion.
Sensors are attached to the engine and propeller and run through the full range of RPMs. As this is done, the sensors are analyzed for possible vibrations. The technology can recognize and determine how much weight needs to be added or subtracted.
In a dynamic propeller balancing the technician should have proper training and the equipment must be in good working order and clean.Errors or inaccurate data can result from this. These errors can lead to the weight being added or taken away from the wrong location on the propeller and increase the potential for damage.
In static propeller balancing, the evidence of a proper balance can be seen in the movement of the propeller and that when rotated, it will remain in place. Doing both can produce high-quality results. Pilots should be sure to conduct research before they decide on a maintenance facility to best suit their needs.
Where to Turn for Aircraft Propeller Static Balancing?
When you are looking for a maintenance facility to perform your aircraft propeller overhaul, it is important to select a company with the experience and expertise to conduct all of your needs. Stockton Propeller is a full-service propeller overhaul and maintenance facility with the needed equipment and expertise to perform your propeller balance.
Whether it is done as a part of an aircraft propeller overhaul or because you feel an unwanted or unusual vibration, an aircraft propeller static balance is an important piece of your maintenance plan.