An aircraft jack is an extremely important item. Not only does it allow aircraft technicians to work on and fix issues with an aircraft, but it keeps these technicians safe. Without a properly functioning aircraft jack, costly damage could occur or lives could be in danger. Repair of an aircraft jack should not be taken lightly.
In this whitepaper, we will take a look at the dangers of using a damaged aircraft jack, what parts of a jack can be repaired, what the costs and downtime are involved in repairing one and where you can find a suitable repair provider for your aircraft jack.
THE DANGERS OF USING A DAMAGED AIRCRAFT JACK
Whether your aircraft jack is hydraulic or mechanical, it is always essential to check and ensure the jack is not damaged or wrongly calibrated before and after each use. When a jack is damaged or inadequately measured, the aviation technician, along with all other neighboring workers and the environment around the aircraft, are in a significant amount of danger. Aircraft jacks are responsible for holding up an average of 490 tons. If the jack is not operating properly, there is a high risk for the aircraft to fall from the prop leading to damages of the hanger where the maintenance is taking place, damages to the aircraft itself, and injuries to those surrounding the aircraft – possible life or death situations if an aviation technician is under the aircraft. These hazardous situations can be avoided if careful and proper jacking procedures are followed.
FIVE TIPS FOR ENSURING SAFE JACK HANDLING
Check the jack before and after each use. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Never return a damaged jack back to storage. If a jack is damaged, it should be properly set aside and marked so that other aviation technicians are aware of the defect.
When storing a jack, ensure that it is standing upright with the ram/rack/screw/journal lowered to protect from damage in storage. The levers, handles and tommy bars should be stored separately.
When handling a jack, be sure to never raise the load higher than necessary or over extend the jack. This could cause damage to the equipment.
Jacks should undergo regular inspection, maintenance and calibration. These three steps ensure the equipment is working properly and adequately.
OTHER JACK SAFETY PROCEDURES TO REMEMBER
Before raising an aircraft, an overall inspection of the jack, the aircraft and the environment should be completed. This inspection should determine if there are any hazards to the aircraft or the personnel. When inspecting the jack, it is important to check the lifting capacity, the functionality of the safety locks, the condition of the pins and the overall serviceability. The jack should always be placed under the aircraft’s designated jacking points and an alignment check should always be made before raising the aircraft. Misalignment is the most common reason for accidents during the jacking of an aircraft. The head of the jack should be in full contact with the jacking pad to ensure proper distribution. Before raising the aircraft, it is very important to ensure that the floor, along with the aircraft, are level and that there is no potential for overloading. When an aircraft is raised, the area surrounding the aircraft should be secured and no personnel should work or climb on the load.
WHAT PARTS OF AN AIRCRAFT JACK CAN BE REPAIRED
Majority of aircraft jacks fall under the hydraulic category, however there are still a few scenarios where mechanical jacks are used. Mechanical aircraft jacks are mostly used for lighter smaller aircraft and operate on a screw jack principle, a rotational force used to raise the ram with use of a square thread. Hydraulic aircraft jacks operate on a hydraulic principle, which consists of hydraulic fluid, pistons or rams, cylinders, oil reservoirs, an operator and a remote device. Due to the complexity of this principle, hydraulic aircraft jacks require regular maintenance and often need to be repaired.
COMMON HYDRAULIC JACK DAMAGES
It is important to note, hydraulic jacks consist of a handful of components that work together to lift the aircraft. If one of these components is not properly working or is simply not working at all, it is essential to have your aircraft jack looked at by a professional.
One common malfunction that occurs with hydraulic jacks frequently is fluid leaking. This could happen for a manifold of reasons. This malfunction most likely occurs when the seal has been dislodged or worn out due to overuse. A seal may also fail due to damage from incorrect installation, chemical break down or utilization of the wrong fluid.
The second most common issue seen with hydraulic jacks is ram malfunctions and check ball failures. When a ram malfunctions, it is usually due to there not being enough fluid in the reservoir. When this happens, air builds up in the reservoir which prevents the jack from lifting. Check ball failures occur when the check ball is not properly seated. This will result in the jack not lifting up the weight it is meant to.
Lastly, structural damage of a jack is very common, especially in the legs of a jack. It is important to have these damages fixed promptly by a professional because damages to jack legs could lead to leveling issues and could cause the aircraft to fall off of the lift. This could lead to catastrophic consequences.
Regular maintenance to your aircraft jack is recommended to ensure little downtime and to prevent unnecessary damage caused by over use. Manufacturers recommend maintenance to be perform every 90 days and aircraft jack proof testing to be done every 12 months.
THE COST OF AIRCRAFT JACK REPAIR
Aircraft jack repairs can vary based on the work needing to be done. If a jack needs to be replaced, the price could reflect the amount of a small car. Although small repairs would be favored over jack replacement, these too can put a dent in your pocket. Keep in mind when sending a jack to a manufacturer or a lab, you’re not only paying for parts and service fees, you’re paying for shipping and handling as well. Shipping costs alone could cost anywhere between $350 to $2,000, depending on the type, size, weight and service provider. Small repair prices will vary depending on what exactly needs to be fixed and how severely the part is damaged. When taking all of this into consideration, it’s important to remember recalibration will also be needed after repair to ensure your aircraft jack is working safely and is capable of lifting a heavy load. Because recalibration is essential, the best way to save money and downtime would be to use a calibration laboratory or an on-site aviation technician.
USING A CALIBRATION LAB
Calibration lab repair costs can be 20 to 30% cheaper than those of a manufacturer. However, when choosing this option for repairs, shipping and handling costs are still being applied on top of repair and service fees. Depending on the distance between you and the calibration lab, this option could be pretty costly and could lead to a large sum of downtime. The benefit of choosing this option over a manufacturer is repair and calibration can all be performed in one place.
USING AN ON-SITE TECHNICIAN
The benefit of choosing this option is shipping and handling fees are cut out completely. However, it will be your responsibility to pay for transportation and hotel fees for the on-site aviation technician. Although these fees are still expensive, in the long run they can save you hundreds of dollars depending on how far the technician needs to travel. Another benefit of choosing an on-site technician is repair and recalibration can be done at your location, therefore minimal downtime occurs.
CHOOSING AN EFFICIENT AIRCRAFT JACK REPAIR PROVIDER
When choosing a provider to repair your aircraft jack, several factors should be taken into account. A comparison between the manufacturer, a calibration lab or an on-site aviation technician should be completed to weigh out the pros and cons for each. When looking at all three options, it is essential to consider cost, shipping, downtime and the technical competence of the provider.
If you choose to go with the manufacturer of the aircraft jack, you can always guarantee technical competence of the personnel. The technicians that work for the jack’s manufacturing company will be familiar with common damages to their products and will know how to properly repair each part. Although this option will most likely ensure the accuracy of the jack once it is returned, this is also the most expensive option with the highest amount of downtime. Manufacturer costs are known to be almost 30% more than those of a third-party provider and that’s not even including shipping costs.
Depending on the distance between you and the manufacturer, shipping costs could range between $500 to $2,000. The distance could also cause a large amount of downtime leading to loss in revenue. You will also most likely have to pay to send the jack to a lab after repairs for recalibration and proof load testing, which again could cost a significant amount of money and extend the amount of downtime.
If you choose to go with an accredited calibration lab, you can get repair and recalibration of your jack completed all at one time. This is a benefit to choosing this option because extra money will not need to be spent to send a jack to multiply locations and downtime will also be decreased. A calibration lab will cost you anywhere from 20-30% less than what manufacturer would. When choosing an accredited calibration lab, you are ensuring accuracy of your jack after it has been repaired and recalibrated. This is due to accredited calibration labs having personnel who are considered technically competent to the highest degree.
ON-SITE AVIATION TECHNICIAN
This option, is more times than not, the most cost effective. By hiring an on-site technician, you could possibly save yourself $1,000 and a large sum of downtime. Another benefit of choosing this option is, most on-site technicians come from calibration labs, therefore repairs and recalibration can be completed right at the location your jack is already sitting at.
WHY CHOOSE AN ON-SITE CALIBRATION LAB FOR AIRCRAFT JACK REPAIR
When choosing a company to repair and maintenance your aircraft jack, it is essential to look somewhere that can meet your needs and also give you accurate results. Although we have weighed out the pros and cons of all three options when it comes to repairs, calibration labs are still the most efficient and reasonable choice. Calibration labs can repair, recalibrate and proof load all at one time and one location. Another plus to choosing this option – calibration labs will often times have on-site aviation technicians. When all of these factors are added together, downtime is minimal and cost doesn’t necessarily break the bank. Determination of whether a jack can be repaired in a lab or on-site is based on the degree of damage. If the jack is severely damaged, chances are it will need to be shipped to a calibration lab to be properly repaired. If damage is minimal then on-site technicians can be used.
If you choose to go with an on-site you should note that not all on-site technicians are all the same, just like all calibration labs are not the same. When deciding which on-site lab will best suit you’re needs you should always choose whichever will make you feel confident and comfortable with the repairs and the technician. If you feel more comfortable being able to view what work is being done, then you should focus on transparency and steer clear of any on-site technicians that use a mobile laboratory. Mobile laboratories should also be avoided if communication is a key factor in feeling confident in the services you are receiving. However, if having a controlled external environment is essential in repair, then a mobile laboratory would be the safest way to go.
e2b calibration is an ISO 17025 accredited calibration laboratory. We offer on-site calibration maintenance and repair services, while other services can be provided in our off-site laboratory. We specialize in GSE maintenance and repair and in 2016, became a Tronair Authorized Service Center. Our company can offer maintenance and repair services to a wide array of ground support equipment, including hydraulic power units, cabin pressure units, aircraft jacks, engine slings and more.
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