What Are Special Inspections for Aircraft

As aircrafts are subjected to a wide range of operational environments, they endure countless stressors that can affect their service lives. That being said, aircraft inspections are key to their optimal performance. Without inspections, aircraft can pose a danger to aircrew and passengers if wear and tear is overlooked. Beyond regular maintenance procedures, there are a few special inspections that determine their airworthiness.

Also known as conditional inspections, special inspections are carried out to ensure the aircraft structure is free of any structural damage. When performing such inspections, technicians and mechanics must follow detailed procedures that are often outlined in the aircraft maintenance manual. With this in mind, this blog will provide a brief overview of the most common special inspections, allowing you to better understand their importance.

Hard or Overweight Landing Inspections

The structural stress that aircraft experience during landing is dependent on the total weight of the airplane and the amount of force with which it strikes the ground. A hard landing inspection is carried out when a hard landing takes place at or below the maximum design landing limits. Meanwhile, an overweight landing inspection is required when an aircraft lands at a weight that is beyond the maximum landing weight limit.

Due to the difficulty in determining the vertical velocity at the time of impact, it is hard to decide whether a landing is severe enough to cause any structural damage. Nonetheless, the most common forms of damage include wrinkled wing skin or fuel leakage along riveted seams. Other locations where one may find damages include spar webs, bulkheads, nacelle attachments, firewall skin, and wing & fuselage stringers.

Severe Turbulence Inspection

During a gust or a storm, the air load on the wings often exceeds the standard wing load carrying the aircraft’s weight. This results in the wind accelerating the aircraft while its inertia attempts to resist the change. If the airspeed becomes too turbulent, the stress will cause structural damage. This situation will necessitate a special inspection as soon as the aircraft lands. The inspection begins with checking the upper and lower wings for excessive buckles or wrinkles. If wrinkles are present, the rivets must be removed and the rivet shanks should be assessed for wear.

Bird Strike Inspection

As its name suggests, this inspection is carried out when there is a collision between a bird or a flock of birds and an aircraft. While it may not seem like a significant threat to a plane, many commercial jets have made emergency landings due to suspected bird strikes. When this occurs, the aircraft’s external structures are examined at the price location where the presumed bird struck. If the external areas show damage, the internal structure must be checked as well. Furthermore, the hydraulic, pneumatic, and other systems in the area of the bird strike should also be inspected.


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