Free «Helicopter Maintenance» Essay Sample

Helicopter Maintenance


There is a problem of improving the processes of technical operations of aircrafts. It lies in enhancing their efficiency and safety and occupies a special place among the most important issues related to operations of modern aircrafts. It is accompanied by a continuous change of their technical conditions. Irreversible processes occurring in materials change properties of details of various units and their working conditions. Therefore, probability of failure of the latter one decreases with time. There can be faults and failures. Measures performed in technical operations of the aircrafts and associated with their maintenance, repair and flight training have a large effect on their reliability and use. In this case, technical maintenance refers to a set of works to maintain accuracy and efficiency of the aircraft during its preparation and use, as well as during storage and transportation. The exploitation of the helicopter includes its quality maintenance, management of its systems, and equipment on the ground. Besides, it involves the selection and maintenance of required parameters and modes of operations of helicopter systems and components. Each such flying vehicle, as well as any other type of technical equipment, has a certain period of conducting the necessary transport services. Timely maintenance of helicopters is a guarantee of safety of the pilot and passengers. The aim of the paper is to describe specific technical maintenance for the helicopter Robinson R44.

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Importance of Technical Maintenance

Competent and timely maintenance of each helicopter is a primary condition of safety. Aircrafts should be regularly checked for their compliance with the technical state of a board. This checking is done according to the formally established standards and norms of airworthiness. “Maintenance of helicopters is more demanding than that of fix-wing aircraft” (Wise, Hopkin, & Garland, 2009, p. 314). An airworthy condition is checked both by regulated time (once a year) and a number of flying hours of a particular aircraft. The resource of the helicopter is defined by a manufacturer and indicated in the documentation for each vehicle. After the resource, the scheduled preventive maintenance or replacing of its particular parts is mandatory. For helicopters Robinson R44, technical maintenance is necessary after every 50 flight hours. These works include the replacement of consumables and technical liquids, testing the operations of basic units and appliances, as well as other highly specialized tasks. In addition, if the helicopter is not being used for a long time before the first flight after a long break, it needs a serious test. However, even with the active use of the aircraft, before each flight, vehicle’s technicians must examine its board, check the fluid level and amount. Besides, if necessary, technicians should execute refueling the helicopter.

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Robinson R44

For today, one of the most common light helicopters is Robinson R44. It may be considered as “One of the fastest sailing helicopters in history” (Montgomery, 2006, p. 238). It conducted its first flight on 31 March, 1990. In 2006, the production volume of Robinson R44 reached 652 per year, exceeding the half of the global production of light helicopters (ranging from 1 to 7 seats). There are several modifications of this helicopter, i.e. a model Robinson R44 Clipper, with floats for use with the water surface. One more is Robinson R44 Newscopter, which has been designed specifically for media companies and improved models of its original versions, i.e. Robinson R44 Raven and Raven II. Due to its reliability, quality and affordable service, this model has been recognized throughout the world. The helicopter Robinson R44 can be found from the North Pole to Australia. Despite its quality and reliability, there should be the regular maintenance of the helicopter.

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Types of Technical Maintenance

There are line and base maintenance of the helicopter. The initial one is conducted every time before departure and after arrival of the aircraft. It represents a system of maintenance checks of the helicopter and some certain types of work (for example, refueling). It helps ensuring the efficiency of the aircraft. Linear service can be performed by the pilot. Base maintenance is a list of inspections and works performed within the aircraft through the calendar terms of service established by operational and technical documentation. Concerning Robinson R44, the main document regulating the terms of performance of basic maintenance is a maintenance guide of the vehicle. Only qualified professionals may realize the basic technology services.

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There are several types of technical maintenance of the helicopter. The first one is seasonal one. It is held two times a year during the transition to autumn-winter and spring-summer operations of the aircraft. The present level of development of aviation technology has minimized the amount of seasonal maintenance and reduced it exclusively to checks. The next type of maintenance of the helicopter is technical one during its storage. Maintenance instructions of the aircraft require special work if the helicopter does not perform flights over 30 days. Enumeration of works depends on the storage life of the vehicle. Execution of special maintenance is required in case of ingress of the helicopter at certain operating conditions (exploitation in sandy areas, smoky atmosphere, near the sea, operation on limiting modes or after the failure of some systems). The list of works is regulated by the maintenance manual of helicopters.

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Federal Aviation Regulations

Federal Aviation Regulations demand all civil aircrafts to pass via full maintenance. This technical maintenance should be annual. Conducting of this service should be implemented not only for helicopters used in commercial purposes. However, it is also applied for private vehicles. According to the rules, technical maintenance of the helicopter must also be conducted after every 100 hours of work. The helicopter R44 also has some units with a limited resource because of fatigue. It should be replaced within a certain period. The design of the helicopter has a lot of unique features. Therefore, maintenance should be performed by the specially trained personnel.

Federal Aviation Regulations allow a classic pilot, who owns or operates the helicopter and performs a limited list of specific maintenance tasks. These procedures include:

  1. Replacement of the used safety wire and pins.
  2. Replacement of lamps, reflectors, and lenses of navigation lights as well as landing lights.
  3. Replacement, cleaning or installation of gaps on spark plugs.
  4. Replacement of an air filter of an engine.
  5. Replacement of wear pads on the landing skis.
  6. Replacement of engine oil.
  7. Maintenance or replacement of an accumulator battery.
  8. Replacement of a fuel filter.
  9. Replacement of oil in a tail gearbox.
  10. Replacement of any fairings or viewing panels (Federal Aviation Regulations).

Despite the fact that these kinds of works are officially permitted, the pilot may perform them upon such conditions only. It means if he/she is completely confident as being sufficiently qualified to perform the required works with the effective reliability. Any work performed by the pilot should be executed in accordance with the maintenance manual of the helicopter. After the work is completed, the pilot must add the following information in the following form:

  1. The date of completion of the activity.
  2. Operating time on the aircraft.
  3. Content of the work.
  4. The number of a pilot license.
  5. The signature of the pilot (Federal Aviation Regulations).

Compactness and variety of unique features of the helicopter R44 do not allow any modifications of the aircraft. Dynamic performance and sensitivity of the rotor of the airscrew, drive systems, and control of the vehicle in fatigue make any undertaken modifications of these systems extremely dangerous. “The main rotor diameter is 25 feet 2 inches and tail rotor is 3 feet 6 inches” (Slagley, 2011, p. 150). Installation of any electronic equipment or avionics not coordinated with a manufacturer is also dangerous. Saturation of the console and tunnel makes wiring of any additional harness obstacle to a free movement of control levers. It contains all kinds of control and bundles of wires. Other electrical devices have an adverse effect on electronic tachometers, a trim system, and speed control used in R44. Reliability and accuracy of these units and systems are the essential factors for a safe operation of any helicopter. They are as well important for the installation of any electrical equipment being not tested and approved by the manufacturer. It could easily create hazardous conditions.

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The helicopter should be washed with mild soap and water. Coarse abrasive materials, various alkaline soap or disinfecting agents may cause scratches on the paint or plastic-coated surfaces. They could lead to the corrosion of metal. When washing, the surface that can be damaged by cleaning agents should be closed. To remove grease or oil, the pilot needs to use a cloth moistened in ligroin. To protect paint coatings, wax can be applied. Soft fabric will not make any scratches when washing the helicopter.


Aviation equipment needs the timely and competent service performed by highly skilled professionals. It is extremely important to keep it in a good condition and serve it regularly. For example, for Robinson R44, transport services should be done approximately every 50 hours of flight and major overhaul of 2200 hours (about 12 years of active usage). Therefore, technical maintenance is safety that is being above all. In addition, it is necessary to monitor the conditions of the helicopter for the extension of its airworthiness. Its technical maintenance includes the replacement of worn pads, engine oil, used safety wire, and pins, among others. It is extremely important for this expensive equipment.

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