The wheels of aircraft are subjected to countless stressors during standard flight operations, often worn over time from harsh weather, the impact forces of landing, moisture, and other factors. As wheels continue to take punishment, they can eventually lose their performance or cause a safety risk. In order to prevent such hazards and maintain the service lives of wheels, regular inspections and maintenance should be conducted. In this blog, we will provide a basic overview of aircraft wheel inspections, allowing you to understand how they are conducted to protect such components.
Across most issues faced by aircraft wheels, the most common are cracks, corrosion, nicks, scratches, impact damages, deep grooves, excessive wear, loose components, paint flaking, and overheating. The most crucial area of the assembly that is often checked for its condition is the wheel bead seat. The wheel bead seat is where the tire’s rubber edge makes contact with the metal of the wheel, and this area is typically of high concern due to its vulnerability to fatigue and heat damage. In order to test the wheel bead seat, technicians commonly use an eddy current instrument alongside wheel-specific probes. As a form of non-destructive test (NDT), eddy current instruments use either electromagnetic induction or electricity and magnetism in order to produce a magnetic field within the tested component. With the produced magnetic field, small cracks, heat damages, and other issues can be found with ease.
During standard inspections, the wheel bearings are also another key area to look over. The wheel bearings are what take on the load of the aircraft during a touchdown, and thus undertake a great amount of force that can cause losses in integrity over time. Generally speaking, the most common issues faced by wheel bearings include galling, spalling, overheating, brinelling, false brinelling, staining and surface marks, etching and corrosion, and bruising. Whenever there is a defect present on a wheel bearing, it will most often require replacement.
Beyond bearings, one should also check the bolt and nut fasteners of the wheels, ensuring that they are all secured to the assembly with sufficient torque. If there are any missing bolts from the wheel, the assembly should be removed and maintained. While following manufacturer specifications, one should also complete a thorough inspection of the wheel halves for stresses, and the wheel hub dust cap and anti-skid sensor should both be secured properly. Beyond such components, any missing part should be a major concern and remedied before the aircraft is flown.
When making more general observations, one should always check for issues stemming from heat, including cracks or flaking paint. It is also crucial that the thermal plugs are checked, as their fusible alloy may be melted. The wheels should all be oriented correctly as well, as any abnormal tilting may be detrimental to their operations. If there are missing flange pieces or significant impact damages located on any area of the aircraft wheels, such components should be serviced as needed.
By carrying out regular inspections and maintenance procedures for aircraft wheels, such assemblies can be better treated and protected for the efficiency and safety of conducting ground procedures. At Aviation Sphere, we are a leading online distributor of aircraft parts, and we are your sourcing solution for wheel bearing components, brake caliper parts, eddy current instruments, and much more. Utilizing our market expertise and purchasing power, we leverage time and cost savings for the benefit of our customers. As you browse our robust part and manufacturer catalogs, we invite you to fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form for the items that you are most interested in. Upon receiving your request, a dedicated account manager will reach out to you in 15 minutes or less with a personalized quote based on your needs.
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