DALLAS — Corrosion of aircraft parts is a significant concern for the industry, as it can lead to reduced efficiency, increased maintenance costs, and even safety hazards.
Aircraft parts are complex systems of metal components, which when exposed to various environmental factors during flight can cause corrosion, which can weaken or damage aircraft parts and systems.
In the aviation industry, corrosion can pose a significant risk to the safety, reliability, and efficiency of aircraft. It is essential to prevent and control corrosion for ensuring the safety and reliability of aircraft.
In 2021, Qatar Airlines (QR) filed a lawsuit with the manufacturer over surface paint issues on the Airbus A350 with a complaint that it had detected cracks in the paint of some of its newly acquired A350 aircraft and subsequently grounded part of its fleet. However, QR and Airbus have already settled the long-standing A350 dispute recently.
Before taking into account the techniques and methods to prevent and control corrosion in aircraft, here are some of the types of corrosion that can occur in aircraft, along with some of the parts where they typically occur.
Surface corrosion is a general term that refers to any type of corrosion that occurs on the surface of a metal component. This type of corrosion may occur in any area of the aircraft that is exposed to a corrosive environment, such as the exterior of the aircraft, fuel tanks, hydraulic lines, and engine components.
Surface corrosion can take on different forms, including uniform corrosion, pitting corrosion, and intergranular corrosion.
Uniform corrosion is one of the most common types of corrosion in aircraft and can occur on any metal surface exposed to a corrosive environment. Such corrosion usually occurs when a metal surface is exposed to saltwater, acid rain, or high humidity.
Uniform corrosion eventually results in a loss of material thickness and potentially compromises the structural integrity of the affected aircraft part. While uniform corrosion is a type of surface corrosion, not all surface corrosion is uniform.
Some of the common aircraft parts where uniform corrosion may occur include the exterior parts of the aircraft, such as the fuselage, wings, and tail, as well as internal parts such as fuel tanks, hydraulic lines, and engine components.
Pitting corrosion is a localized form of corrosion that can occur on any metal surface or area where uniform corrosion has been removed. It is characterized by small pits or holes in the metal surface, which can compromise the structural integrity of the part.
Some of the common parts where pitting corrosion may occur include fasteners, landing gear components, and other structural members that are exposed to harsh environmental conditions.
To keep reading, subscribe today and you'll never miss our exclusive content. Airways Premium Members get full access to incisive articles and analyses from aviation experts and industry insiders.
Feature Image: VCV – Victorville boneyard. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways