CJI Town Hall : ’Colliding factors are leading to corrosion’


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Many factors, not least the amassed particulate matter from erupting volcanoes, can lead to an increase in discovery of corrosion on aircraft by MROs, Stuart Kirkwood, founder, AlbaTechAero told Corporate Jet Investor (CJI) Town Hall delegates.

In this week’s Town Hall Kirkwood answered a question from our last face-to-face conference CJI London 2020, back in February: “Why do MROs keep finding more and more corrosion?”. Kirkwood noted the question was born from personal experience.

Shedding light on the reasons why, Kirkwood notes, it is critical to understand that MROs do not have control over many aspects of the inspections and maintenance they carry out — corrosion falls into that category. What must be done is strictly controlled by the maintenance steering group and the maintenance plans received from OEMs are tightly regulated by the OEMs themselves and the regulatory authority. MROs exist to to keep your aircraft safe, said Kirkwood.

How can volcanoes account for increased corrosion found on aircraft ? Kirkland said there are 45 active volcanoes right now, whilst most of their plume falls as ash, a large amount remains in the atmosphere and is carried by winds worldwide. The cumulative effect of the 45 eruptions is likely to have an overall impact on the amount of particles in the atmosphere, he said, in turn heightening an aircraft’s exposure to particulate contamination and therefore corrosion.

New aircraft fluids, for cleaning and de-icing, also contributed to the problem. While more environmentally friendly, the new formula appeared to be weaker, which reduced effectiveness, he said. A cleaning regime would have to be increased  to achieve the same effect as their strong predecessors.

Coupling particle increase with less effective cleaning accounts for the detection of more corrosion as time passes said Kirkwood. “So, unless aircraft manufacturers start to use materials which are more durable to withstand this type of corrosion, which is unlikely, then it is very possible that [MRO’s seeing more corrosion] will be the case.”

This week’s edition of CJI Town Hall, The Mx Factor, included presentations from Derlay Dobbins, senior manager, Pratt & Whitney Canada; Lee Brewster, director of communications, ATP; Stuart Kirkwood, founder, AlbaTechAero; and Andy Nixon, co-founder, MRO Insider. You can rewatch this week’s edition of CJI Town Hall, any previous sessions you may have missed and sign up for next week’s edition here.

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