At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, industries around the world, including the aviation sector, saw unprecedented declines in the frequency of air travel. With everyone under lockdown, the airline industry was forced to place their aircraft in storage. As images of aircraft fleets lined up went viral, no one was sure when we would traverse the skies again.
Today, roaring jet engines can be heard and airports are crowded with eager travelers once more. However, in the time that air travel was put on pause, grounding entire aircraft fleets presented a major logistical challenge. Airports were running out of storage space. So much so that aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus held back airplane deliveries, thus adding to the slew of airplanes parked across airport lots.
As countries closed down airspace and shut down air travel to prevent the virus from spreading, airlines had to find a way to protect their billion-dollar aircraft fleets. Thousands of planes were constantly exposed to varying weather conditions as they stood still on the tarmac. To keep planes airworthy, a number of maintenance checks were carried out to ensure that they remained functional. This was especially true of the engine.
In fact, the most critical part of an airplane is the engine. Beyond being expensive and fragile, without it, planes are rendered obsolete. Jet engines of airplanes in particular are incredibly powerful and precise machines that provide the necessary thrust to lift large aircraft into the air. As such, engines must be protected from damage during downtime or storage. With the right techniques and precautions, the service life of your aircraft can be prolonged.
Storage begins with cleaning and prepping the aircraft by sealing areas that may be at risk for corrosion and removing excess parts from the fuselage. Furthermore, closing off lavatories, galleys, and any other areas that may accumulate moisture is also important. Using proper covers and plugs, for example, can guarantee that the engine will not come in contact with any foreign debris or materials while the aircraft is being stored.
Aircraft covers can prevent rust and corrosion, making them important tools for aircraft protection and preservation. Over time, dirt or dust can become acidic and can eat away at engine parts, causing them to corrode. This is called foreign object damage or FOD and consists of rocks, sand, metal scraps, or parts of other vehicles that can get sucked into an engine resulting in complete engine failure. FOD also includes the possibility of turbine blades being damaged when large birds are ingested into the engine.
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