Calibration of aviation equipment is of extreme importance because it ensures the accuracy of the tools used for inspections on an aircraft and its components. By calibrating aviation equipment, measurement errors are minimized and uncertainties are within an acceptable level.
In order to assure that all aviation equipment has been calibrated, a solid aviation calibration plan needs to be created. In this article, we have laid out a step-by-step guide on how to create a successful aviation calibration plan and what you should consider during planning.
STEP 1 – CHOOSING A PROVIDER
When creating your aviation calibration plan you first have to start with choosing your provider. Tools and inspection/test equipment require calibration performed by either an accredited calibration laboratory or a non-accredited calibration lab.
ACCREDITED CALIBRATION LAB
An accredited calibration lab is a lab deemed accredited by a third-party organization. To achieve accreditation, a lab has to undergo a thorough assessment which evaluates personnel, laboratory environment and calibration traceability. If all three factors “pass” the assessment, then a lab is deemed competent and compliant with ISO/IEC 17025 standards. What this means is that a lab has highly knowledgeable personnel, a safe and efficient work environment and complies with traceability requirements.
NON-ACCREDITED CALIBRATION LAB
A non-accredited calibration lab has not been deemed compliant and competent with ISO/IEC 17025 standards. Although this option may be able to perform the same calibrations as an accredited calibration, it is best to remember why exactly a lab has been granted accreditation in the first place. Unaccredited laboratories are not observed by an accrediting body which means they are not required to meet a high level of standards.
**Quick Tip: Choose a provider that specializes in the equipment you need calibrated. For example, accredited calibration labs will have a Scope of Accreditation which will indicate what equipment they are highly knowledgeable in.
Also, look for a provider that provides traceability (remember all accredited labs are required to meet traceability standards).
STEP 2 – SETTING CALIBRATION INTERVALS
After choosing a provider for your aviation calibration plan, you will need to set calibration intervals for each piece of equipment. While this may sound like a tedious task, it is necessary to ensure all aviation equipment is accurate and reliable. Calibration intervals should be determined by the manufacturer’s recommendation and the amount the instrument is used. Notably, there are some instances where a manufacturer specifies more rigorous calibration requirements for particular components. These additional requirements should also be considered when setting calibration intervals.
To determine calibration intervals, a thorough analysis of each instrument’s calibration history is first needed. Each instruments calibration history should contain data that can help determine intolerance vs. time since calibration was performed. This equation will help determine how frequently calibration is needed for each piece of equipment.
Also keep in mind that calibration should also be performed at certain periods of an equipment’s life:
- When an instrument is initially purchased.
- After an instrument has been repaired.
- During set calibration intervals.
- Whenever accuracy of a measurement is in doubt.
STEP 3 – TRACKING YOUR ASSETS
Once you have worked tirelessly at setting calibration intervals for each piece of equipment, it’s important to track these intervals and your inventory. To do this the easy way, investing in an asset management system is recommended. Many asset management systems today offer features that allow you to not only track calibration intervals, but also the location of each instrument and when it was last checked out or in. These features will ease the tedious tasks of maintaining equipment, while also helping prevent against foreign object debris, lost/misplaced instruments and increased downtime due to search for the misplaced instruments.
By following these three steps, you can create a solid aviation calibration plan that is organized and guaranteed to leave you with accuracy and reliability.