The global coronavirus pandemic does not show any signs of stopping anytime soon, which is why business airliners have to stay parked longer than initially expected by their owners. What was initially considered to be a temporary break for several weeks, the situation has evolved in a way where billions of dollars of business could stagnate for several months.
This led to the parking of airplanes for a much longer period. “The modern business plane doesn’t like to stay,” said Aviation founder and president Nathan Winkle, during an April 9 NBAA webinar on parked aircraft maintenance. “We will have problems. I think it would be naive for operators and owners to think of the day when we simply resumed our full activity. ”
In this field of activity, time means money. And the time when airplanes are parked means lost money. The aircraft owners must prepare the aircraft for the inactivity period and carry out their periodic maintenance. First of all, experts say that it is important for the owner to determine if the aircraft should only be parked or stored.
Parking a short-term aircraft requires different maintenance measures than a long-term aircraft storage, which requires specific actions to preserve the airframe and engines.
For short term parking, it is recommended to place the aircraft in a hangar. If a hangar is not available, the next option is a flat surface, away from strong winds and constantly monitoring. Of course, protective measures and safety equipment will be installed, such as landing gear lock pins and ensuring that all access doors are locked and secure.
Also, static lids for engine inputs and outputs, as well as attaching a grounding cable to the aircraft must be installed. The batteries of the aircraft should be disconnected and the tires maintained at the pressure level specified by the manufacturer.
To avoid the formation of flat spots on the aircraft’s tires, it should be removed weekly from the hangar, placed on the ramp to run each system so that fluids circulate through the aircraft. These actions should also include the commissioning of the toilet and environmental control systems of the aircraft, as well as the satcom and wireless internet, in case there are software updates that need to be downloaded.
For long-term stored aircraft, it is recommended that water from the fuel tanks be leaked on a regular basis and conduct a fuel contamination test if possible. Finally, it is necessary to carry out scheduled periodic inspections, during the period when the aircraft is stored.