How to Identify and Treat Aircraft Corrosion?
No matter what technological advance we make or new methodology we utilize, corrosion of metals and decomposition is impossible to stop. As aircraft and their components are often primarily metal, these parts too will face nature’s whims. While we can’t forstall corrosion forever, it is possible to slow the corrosion down, mitigate it’s damage, and generally be more aware of when it is time to repair or replace components as to maintain the integrity and airworthiness of an aircraft.
Things that may affect aircraft corrosion rates and amount of damage include whether or not the airplane is hangared, how often it is cleaned, and the climate of the environment it resides in. Most corrosion is due to moisture and air, thus aircraft that are located within coastal and humid regions are at most risk to corrosion. Utilizing protective measures against moisture can then slow down the attack and degradation. Treatment of corrosion can be done through primers, abrasion, and adding film barriers. When corrosion becomes severe, the only option is replacement.
Being able to identify types of aircraft corrosion is extremely crucial to treating it early. Unlike iron, aluminum does not rust with a reddish color, rather often is white or gray which can be confused for fading. Uniform surface attack is a common form of metallic corrosion and is caused by exposure to air. Factors that speed up the process of this damage include poor painting of the aircraft, high humidity environments, and certain chemicals. Stress corrosion also happens fairly usually due to being caused by the harsh conditions that many components endure during normal use.
Aluminum in particular is at risk for pitting corrosion, which consists of crevices that form due to trapped moisture. This can be spotted by small fissures and powdery materials on the metal. These should be treated immediately before they have time to worsen. Aluminum is also at higher risk for intergranular corrosion which is caused by susceptible edges of metals, usually due to no uniformity. This is critical to catch early as once it begins to show falking and lifting, there is no way to repair the metal.
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