By Engr. M. Awais & Engr. M.Salman
In growing world economy and strict time schedules, aviation is the only solution to reduce time & time associated cost of mass transportation. Advents in aviation industry has lead to fuel efficient flight as well as a well organized operation to reduce any unnecessary costs of such enterprises. Airbus, being the leaders of aviation industry has developed dramatically in aviation as well as associated sciences & management. Boeing follows Airbus in the development regime.
Where there is extraordinary engineering involved in design and fabrication of aeronautical vehicle, there is immense associated risk and most of all, human error involved. Whether its flight operations on-board or on the ground, flight crew manages whole plane and its performance. After every 100 flight hours, basic inspection is done and after 1000 Flight Hrs., complete disassembling and assembling takes place of the whole aircraft to analyze any occurring deformation in critical parts of an aircraft. The whole plane is thoroughly inspected and then put back together after replacement on early detection of flaws. These inspections require highly qualified quality inspectors well versed with aeronautical standards to identify slightest of deformity.
Many tools have been developed to assist such inspections and many were evolved by Airbus to assist hanger based inspections. This however does not entertain any flight failures where the plane is already in flight and has a failure in critical part. Such failures lead to aviation accidents. Many such events have been recorded with many precious lives lost. If we study the operations and safety regulations, we can rest assured that it’s not a mechanical failure that occurred during flight, perhaps it was human error that overlooked some aspect of inspection and it lead to failure during flight. All the critical parts are designed with design safety requirements of 3 times the required parameters yet failure occurs.
Traceability of the maintenance operations can lead towards development of strict inspection regimes that can reduce the number of flight failures but it is vital to develop a self aware system on-board that keeps track of critical parts and alert any failure before it occurs. For instance, the critical joints under cyclic loads are one of the major troubled parts as the failure does not signify its position or mode of failure until it has failed. Any on-board system that can provide a system wide analysis of stress profiles can provide a very detailed image for the crew to monitor during flight and they can react faster to occurring failure as compared to following the check list. During flight failure, every second is important as pilot’s decision defines the future of everyone’s life on-board.
Currently, many aviation players are working on developing such early detection systems for aviation applications but there is more to understand than to develop. The weight of an aircraft plays a big role in its operational cost. Every gram that is added to the plane increases its flight fuel requirement. More fuel also adds more weight, so consequently, there is extra fuel consumed to carry that extra weight and extra fuel itself. Commercial aviation is bound by financial figures; hence requirement of such systems would require quite a level of sophistication before anything could be implemented in aviation industry. Moreover the increase in operational cost will greatly affect all aviation players due to every growing global inflation.