How Are Propellers Inspected for Damage?

Aircraft have countless components that necessitate routine maintenance to ensure their optimal functionality. Propellers are just one example of components that need to be inspected from time to time to guarantee they are in working condition. Typically made of an aluminum alloy or a structural composite material, propellers provide propulsion, allowing aircraft to traverse the sky.

Essentially, this aerodynamic device converts rotational energy into propulsive force that generates enough thrust to keep aircraft moving. As it is tasked with such responsibilities, verifying that propellers are working properly is important. This blog will cover maintenance processes, how often propellers should be inspected, and the importance of routine checks.

While propellers should be checked at certain time intervals as per their manufacturer, daily maintenance varies from one type of propeller to another. Nonetheless, regular inspection consists of looking over each propeller blade, hubs, controls, and other related accessories. The visual inspection of blades should be meticulous, allowing the maintenance crew to identify even the smallest flaw or defect.

Inspections that are carried out at greater intervals of time such as 25, 50, or 100 hours should include the assessment of all components. Blades, spinners, and other external structures should be checked for excessive oil or grease deposits. Different sections of the blade such as the leading edge and hubs need to be looked at for evidence of failure, wear, nicks, scratches, or other flaws. Also, the spinner and dome shell screws should be surveyed for tightness. Lastly, the entire assembly must be properly lubricated and meet oil requirements where applicable. 

In the case that a propeller is involved in an accident, the propeller should be disassembled and thoroughly inspected. Beyond inspection, propellers must be kept up-to-date with airworthiness directives (ADs) or service bulletins (SBs) crafted specifically for propellers. Compliance with such standards make aircraft legally airworthy.

As previously mentioned, propeller inspection varies by type. With this in mind, we will cover composite propellers since they are being utilized more and more these days. While they offer a long service life, they still necessitate inspections and routine checks. As such, we will briefly cover composite propeller overhaul processes

Composite propellers, unlike metal propellers, do not shrink after being reworked or damaged. When composite propellers are repaired, they return to their original dimensions. To ensure composite propellers are working optimally, the blades require a tap test. The tap test consists of tapping a metal tool on the blade’s surface to locate delaminated areas. Areas with increased damaged sound like dull thuds.

Visual inspections require the vetting of the leading edge and deicer. Normally, the leading edge is encapsulated by a nickel covering, protecting the propeller from erosion and other damage. Additionally, the deicing boots should be examined for evidence of overheating, which can damage composite propeller blades. For example, Hartzell blades necessitate the additional inspection of deicing boots when temperatures reach more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring that the internal structures do not become delaminated whereas Hamilton blades have a reduced heat capacity.

It is paramount to consider your propellers’ material limitations, allowing you to prevent failure or damage. If you find yourself in need of propeller blades, hubs, deicing boots, lubricants, or other aircraft parts and components, rely on Aviation Orbit for all your standard aviation operations. Aviation Orbit is an online distributor of aircraft parts, NSN components, and IT hardware. With over 2 billion ready to purchase items, you can find exactly what you need with ease. Peruse our ever-expanding part catalogs, and take advantage of our Instant RFQ service. Kickoff the procurement process with a competitive quote and see how Aviation Orbit can serve as your strategic sourcing partner. 


December 7, 2023
June 30, 2022

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