Any pilot is aware that engine and aircraft maintenance is not only a safety protocol, but can also improve engine performance and reduce fuel consumption during flight. For this reason, Covington Aircraft recommends that owners and pilots adhere to a strict maintenance routine. Preventative maintenance can be as basic as an oil and filter change that can be done by owners and pilots, or larger tasks that should be performed by professional aircraft maintenance technicians.
The Main Points Of Attention
Within the lifetime of any aircraft, there will be a number of routines to observe.
- Inspections – all new aircraft require an initial inspection as they become registered with the FAA. Beyond this official inspection, further requirements will be dictated by the FAA, based on flight times, cargo loads, and overall distances covered. Since these inspections can vary in timing, it is always important to stay alert for the expected standards, as violations can result in downed time.
- Engine performance – along with regular maintenance, all PT6A turbines do require a performance evaluation at regular intervals. Although flight time and conditions can impact wear and tear, other issues may also influence how effectively the engine operates. These evaluations will usually uncover small repairs and adjustments that can be made, but will also inform pilots and owners as to whether a complete replacement is required.
- Oil changes and filters – this task can be performed by an MRO facility, but is often done by owners, since it may need to be performed more frequently than other repairs. The quality of the fuel and the oil can both contribute to problems in this area, and regular inspection of the filters can also indicate if there metal in the oil or bacteria or other contaminants in the fuel system.
- Fuel Nozzle Servicing – Pratt & Whitney recommends a service interval of 400 hours, but Covington Aircraft recommends starting out at 200 hours and then working up to 300 or 350. In our experience, this method has proven to increase the life of our customer’s fuel nozzles. Monitoring the condition of your fuel nozzles contributes to the longevity of your hot section.
- Engine vibration – changes in the vibration of a PT6A engine can indicate that there is an imbalance with the impeller or that gears and bearings have worn down. Charting speeds and RPMs over the course of the life of the engine can provide a comparison for average vibration, and excessive vibration may indicate that parts should be examined and replaced.
- Borescope inspections – this addresses concerns that may arise within the hot section of the engine and could indicate problems with the compressor, as well as corrosion that may be causing the engine to overheat. Since PT6A engines allow for on-site inspection and repair, this task can be easily done without needing to disassemble the entire unit.
Knowing the important points of routine maintenance can greatly enhance the performance and longevity of your PT6A engine. Keeping up with facility scheduled repairs can be ideal, but attending to issues as they arise will also ensure safe and extended flights.