Aircraft are generally serviced and maintained by Ground Service Equipment (GSE) which consists of service carts like tow trucks as well as repair or replacement components. Aerospace GSE supports a wide range of intricate systems by providing hydraulic test stands, compressors, nitrogen, cooling air and various components such as hydraulic quick couplings. Due to the services GSE provides, hydraulic aircraft GSE must be properly maintained according to the OEM operations manual, allowing the service team to carry out trouble-free service and prevent costly problems.
Contamination of Hydraulic GSE
By using high-quality aerospace GSE, airlines can extend their equipment life, reduce the frequency of unscheduled maintenance, and minimize overall lifecycle costs. However, hydraulic GSE equipment that comes in contact with the aircraft could contaminate and damage sensitive aircraft hydraulic components if not properly maintained. For instance, one should check for hose and seal integrity, verify fluid levels, and assess for leaks, among other tasks during the maintenance of hydraulic GSE. Some of the aircraft GSE systems that include hydraulics are the hydraulic power units, hydraulic jacks, hydraulic cranes, and more.
Hydraulic fluid contamination is usually divided into four major categories: particles, water, chemical, and air. The particle category includes solid foreign material in fluid, whereas water consists of free water in a solution. Next, chemical contamination comes from a foreign source or fluid deterioration. Lastly, air is also a major contaminant that can either be entrained or dissolved.
Preventing Contamination of Hydraulic GSE
Preventing the contamination of hydraulic GSE should be part of the foundation of general maintenance; thus, all personnel involved must be a part of a contamination prevention program at any training institute. More than that, all hydraulic GSE should have a baseline fluid sample with testing provided by an independent laboratory or with a contamination monitor. Additionally, fluid testing should be performed at specific time intervals alongside regular filter replacement to help prevent contamination in hydraulic GSE.
While not all the systems interact with the aircraft, they all still require inspection and maintenance. For example, one should always use quick-couple protectant caps or plugs that are in good operating condition and only remove them for servicing. Furthermore, verify that any air filter is not saturated, ensuring that contaminants do not make their way into the reservoir. As previously mentioned, monitoring fluid levels is essential but another important factor is fluid compatibility. That being said, anti-icing liquids, hydraulic oils, and other fluids necessitate varying wetted materials in hydraulic GSE; thus, fluid identification is critical.
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