Aircraft MRO work is extremely demanding, dirty, and often difficult, but armed with a growing list of new technology hand tools and accessories, today’s technicians can do their jobs better, faster, and safer.
With the rush to go “all-digital” in today’s hangar, it’s easy to overlook just how important basic hand tools, and accessories are in helping an aircraft technician do what they need to do. Especially if it’s the right tool for the job.
Aircraft technicians are an extremely inventive lot and there have been instances where we may have gotten just a bit too creative with our adaptation of “Tool A” to do a “Tool B” job. In fact, an extremely unofficial poll showed that in too many cases, a technician trying to perform a particular task with the wrong tool could lead anywhere from the repair taking longer than it should, to actually causing more damage to the aircraft. Try and explain that to your boss.
It’s not that the manufacturers aren’t working hard to introduce new tools and accessories. From the simplest of safety glasses to extremely sophisticated portable testing devices and scanners, hardly a month passes that some new, innovative, and labor-saving tool isn’t introduced.
Aviation Maintenance magazine has compiled a short-list of some of these new offerings. We hope that some of them will help you work better in 2020.
Perfect Point EDM’s E-drill
At its best, using a hand drill to remove hard-metal fasteners is extremely difficult and time-consuming work. One slip of the drill bit, and you can do thousands of dollars of damage to the airframe section you are repairing. On top of that, all those tiny metal shavings quickly become sources for all types of FOD issues.
With the introduction of its new E-drill, Perfect Point has eliminated all of the inconsistencies, damage, and safety issues associated with hard fastener removal.
“The E-drill is the first hand tool to use EDM (Electro-Discharge Machining) technology to address the process of fastener removal,” explained Jim Becker, Executive Director, Sales and Marketing, Perfect Point EDM Corp. “Pull the trigger and the E-drill’s tubular electrode cuts and separates the head or collar from a hard-metal fastener up to 20-times faster than the conventional hand drill method.”
“As an added benefit, its closed-loop cooling system vacuums up all debris and leaves the cut location clean and cool to the touch,” he said. “In addition, the E-drill’s locational accuracy and ease of use allows for exponential time savings and damage reduction on day one.”
Becker said that the E-drill is not only faster; it’s a lot safer. “The unique alignment tool ensures that the cutter is spot on the fastener, so there is no chance of the cutter slipping and damaging the parent metal or composite structure,” he stated.
Clayton’s Scorpion HEPA Vacuum
You’d be hard-pressed to name an MRO function that doesn’t produce foreign object debris in one form or another. And those various forms of FOD are not only dangerous to the airframe and aircraft systems; many types can be harmful to technicians themselves.
Clayton Associates’ new, ultra-portable pneumatic Scorpion HEPA Vacuum not only does an exceptional job of collecting and filtering debris, its compact size means you can use it in areas that other units can’t reach.
“The Scorpion’s powerful motor easily captures dust and debris, while its true HEPA filter provides exceptional filtration of heavy metal particles like cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, and other harmful materials,” stated Brad Clayton, (President), Clayton Associates, Inc. “The exhausted air is clean and contaminant-free, which is a huge benefit when working in enclosed spaces.”
In addition to its uses as a clean-up tool after manufacturing or maintenance, the Scorpion can also be used with a shrouded tool to control dust and debris while sanding, grinding, cutting, or drilling. For vacuum sanding or shrouded tools, the Scorpion features pass-through compressed air, so you’ll only need one air line to power both the tool and the vacuum.
Platinum Tools’ Slit and Ring Fiber Optic Cable Stripper
It seems like every maintenance task in a modern airplane requires working with some type of cables and buffer tubes: Coaxial, Ethernet, and Fiber Optic – you name it. And when you’re working with fiber optic cables, in particular, cutting, splitting, and terminating, without damaging the delicate optics inside, is challenging. And it’s even more so when you’re in a cramped airframe, cockpit, or avionics bay.
With the ability to quickly slit and ring fiber optic cables ranging from 0.047” (1.2mm) to 2.252” (6.4mm) in diameter, the new Slit and Ring Fiber Cable Stripper from Platinum Tools takes 99-percent of the worry out of these types of tasks.
“This compact, easy-to-use cutter takes all of the guesswork out of quickly and accurately slitting and ringing cables, buffer tubes, and jackets on fiber optic cables,” explained John Phillips, Product Manager, Platinum Tools. “The V-block is reversible to be able to securely hold a variety of cable sizes, which makes it easy to slit the jackets without damaging the sensitive fiber cable.”
“In addition, both the slit blade and the ring blades are adjustable, delivering exact strip-cut depths,” he said. “The Slit and Ring Fiber Cable Stripper is also very small and lightweight, making it perfect for one-handed operations in confined spaces throughout an aircraft.”
Tensitron’s ACX-1 Aircraft Tension Meter
A common problem with today’s aging aircraft fleet is misadjusted control cables. That issue can lead to a long list of problems with the aircraft’s trim, flight controls, and autopilot system. Unfortunately, with many gauges, the act of checking tension is a lot more labor-intensive than it needs to be.
The new ACX-1 Aircraft Tension Meter from Tensitron, eliminates all of those issues and makes checking control cable tension a simple, “one-handed” operation. The ACX-1 measures a wide range of tension ranges from 0.5 to 1,200 pounds on the commonly used sizes of aircraft cables with the highest degree of digital accuracy.
“The ACX-1 is all digital, so the conversions for millimeters, inches, and CWT diameters are automatic,” stated Liz Koon, Tensitron’s Marketing Manager. “That means there are no conversion charts for the technician to deal with, so it’s a lot faster and accurate. You just turn the power on and select the cable diameter you need to test and engage the meter. The unit does the rest.”
“It also has the option for digital data output. Technicians can select either analog or serial data outputs, enabling them to simply connect the ACX-1 to a computer and download all of the cable tension readings,” she said. “The unit also has a backlit screen, so it’s easy to read when you’re working inside a wing or fuselage.”
Click Bond’s Adhesive-Bonded Fasteners
Today, there’s hardly an airframe modification or repair that doesn’t include new rivetless nutplates, studs, standoffs, cable-tie mounts, brackets, or any number of other adhesive-bonded fasteners. Even with all they do, fasteners are still one of the most under-appreciated tools in any technician’s kit. Yet, having the right fastener can help make any job simpler.
For example, Click Bond’s newest line of adhesive-bonded fasteners includes built-in installation fixtures that ensure more accurate positioning, while providing consistent clamp-up of the bondline during the curing process. These easy-to-use, adhesive-bonded fasteners also eliminate additional rivet holes, preserving structural integrity.
“Having the installation fixture integrated internally within the fastener’s base creates a smaller footprint, which allows the fasteners to be positioned in tighter spaces,” stated Chris Howard, Click Bond’s, Product Marketing Specialist. “Another benefit to the design is the reduced possibility of discarded fixtures accidentally being left in the aircraft, creating more FOD.”
“When using these internally-fixtured parts, installers have no external installation fixtures to remove after curing. This significantly reduces downtime for the aircraft,” he said. “Another benefit is that the overall reduction of plastic waste materials is a step towards making aircraft maintenance more environmentally friendly.”
Smith & Wesson Safety Glasses
It’s an unfortunate fact that 90-percent of all OJT eye injuries is preventable by the simple use of approved eyewear. The problem is, many “safety glasses” are either uncomfortable to wear, or their poor optics cause visual distortion.
Smith & Wesson’s line of Safety Glasses eliminates all of these issues. They’re stylish, comfortable, and deliver the highest quality optics.
According to the company, their latest safety glasses are developed to meet all current ANSI Z87.1-plus standards, our family of safety glasses provides maximum eye protection from impact while delivering exceptional optical clarity. Additionally, because comfort is so important, the Smith & Wesson glasses provide a long list of features that let the wearer adjust their fit to their face.
For example, Smith & Wesson’s new Magnum 3G Safety Glasses feature both extendable temples in two sizes and a self-adjusting nose pad to ensure a comfortable, all-day fit. In addition, their cut-to-shape polycarbonate lenses, prevent image distortion, while providing 99.9-percent UAV/UAB/UVC protection.
MTI Instrument’s Compact Signal Generator
Aircraft mechanics are often required to troubleshoot sensors, wires, and connectors associated with avionics systems or engine controls. While a basic multi meter can be used to check for power and resistance, MTI Instrument’s new 1510A is a portable function generator simplifies the process. It can quickly simulate the output of various types of sensors allowing the technician to simulate the output of a sensor into the aircraft instrumentation – without the added cost and complexity of running the engines.
One example would be to simulate the output of a vibration sensor that is being reported as faulty. Typically, this task would include mounting accelerometers to an engine casing. When the engine is running, the accelerometers pickup engine vibration and transmit the vibration to a charge amplifier, and then on to a cockpit indicator.
With the MTI 1510A, the tech would simply disconnect the accelerometer at the engine and then inject a suitable charge signal from the unit via the wire harness connector to determine if the accelerometer is faulty or if it’s in the wiring/connector or charge amplifier. All this can be done while the engine is off and cooled down, avoiding running the engine to troubleshoot the problem. It also allows the tech to verify the cockpit indicator and charge amplifier are functioning correctly.
Cooperative’s V2500 & CF34 Harness Repairs
CIA&D’s Repair Station now offers repair and overhaul options for the V2500-D5 and CF34-3A & -8E engine harnesses. Major airlines and MROs have come to rely on CIA&D’s FAA Part 145 certified repair center to support CFM56-5A/B/C, CFM56-7B, GE90, CF34-3/8, CF6-80C engine harnesses, and PW4000 QEC harnesses. These P/N additions further enhance service options for our customer’s aircraft and engine wiring harness repair needs.
Family of Veterans Create New Standard for Grease Gun Storage
Announcing the launch of the Lube Containment Sleeve, a grease gun accessory designed to stop grease drool and prevent contamination. The product officially launched on January 1st, 2020.
Hitting up grease points is on the daily check list for most maintenance technicians. The process is relatively simple: grab the grease gun, lube up the zerk fittings, and either hang the gun back up in tool room or throw it in a tool box. The tricky part comes while the gun is in storage and you have to deal with any grease drool or contamination from dust/dirt.
Grease drool is when the lubricant leaks out of the hose and all over the surrounding area. When seasoned mechanic, Albert Soto, couldn’t find a solution to the grease gun issue– he made one, the Lube Containment Sleeve (LCS). The LSC is a thermoplastic sleeve that slides onto the grease gun coupler, preventing drool and contamination. It attaches onto the hose and stores the coupler inside the cylindrical cavity within the sleeve.
To use the grease gun, slide the sleeve down the hose, away from the coupler. Once the job is complete, it slides back over the coupler and provides instant storage. The design is simple and effective. The company got its start when Soto saw how his technicians used sandwich bags to seal grease guns. He then drew up the design on the back of a napkin and took it to his mother, a seamstress, to create the very first prototype. While the cloth prototype did nothing to seal a grease gun, it was enough for a local engineer to work with and create what we know today as the Lube Containment Sleeve.
The company is currently headquartered in Florida, where they manufacture and ship their product. The team itself comprises of a father and son, both of which got their start in aviation while in the military.
Snap-on’s New Spline Zero-Degree Offset Combo Wrenches
The new Spline Zero-Degree Offset Combination Wrenches from Snap-on Industrial feature a uni-directional, zero-degree offset gear design to deliver more power in less lateral space, helping to access and remove the most stubborn fasteners in tight spaces.
The Spline Zero-Degree Offset Combination Wrenches feature ratcheting gears with up to 60 teeth, and work in conjunction with an 8-tooth pawl, which together minimizes swing arc needed to remove fasteners in restricted spaces, such as found in aviation and other industrial applications.
Additional features and benefits of the Spline Zero-Degree Offset Combination Wrenches include:
- Cold-formed gears that use the same proprietary steel found in Snap-on sockets for added toughness and durability
- Flank Drive wrenching system on box-end that generates up to 15-20% more turning power than conventional wrenches, while minimizing risk of tool or fastener damage
- Manufactured from special alloy steel, precision forged and heat treated for optimal strength and durability
- 16 sizes from 7/32” to 1”
There are sixteen sizes of the Spline Zero-Degree Offset Combination Wrenches available. For more information on the Spline Zero-Degree Offset Combination Wrenches from Snap-on visit www.snapon.com.
EvaClean’s Protexus Sprayer Disinfects Efficiently and Effectively
The EvaClean Infection Prevention Program is a fully integrated program using a single chemistry solution throughout the whole cleaning process. The tablets have one set of directions for both cleaning, using the product called PUR:ONE; and disinfecting using PURTABS and the Protexus Sprayer. By combining both the technology and chemistries into one complete solutions package, EvaClean says it allows workers and infection prevention experts to standardize their processes and eliminate many of the training and education challenges faced in programs that still use mops, buckets, wipes, rags, and spray bottles with a multitude of chemistries each with their own unique usage guidelines, dwell times, and safety procedures.
The EvaClean Program is designed to help optimize workflow, simplifies training, and reduces costs, while delivering more predictable and repeatable results that can exceed those of other disinfection and sanitizing programs.
The Protexus electrostatic sprayers disinfect and sanitize around curved and hard-to-reach surfaces, covering up to three times the surface area of a conventional sprayer or mister using the same amount of time and labor.
The electrostatic charge of the sprayer allows the droplets to attract to the surface rather than float in the air, as is typically associated with a mister or fogger. Misters and foggers are associated with worker exposure and respirable concerns. EarthSafe has conducted OSHA and NIOSH third party testing ensuring that there are no safety concerns for acute or long term worker exposure. It was established that exposure levels or PURTABS when sprayed with the Protexus Electrostatic Sprayer fall below established Permissible Exposure Levels (PEL).
EvaClean says that once charged, the sprayer’s battery will run continuously for more than four hours. The battery can be recharged up to 2,000 times. There is an LED light to provide better viewing clarity in dark spaces. A 32oz tank will cover about 800-1,000 square feet dependent on nozzle setting and surface material.
The compatible PURTABS, which work with the sprayer, are effervescent disinfecting and sanitizing tablets that dissolve in water to produce a variety of strengths from the low-level sanitization required for food-contact surfaces, to powerful infection control for C. diff in health care settings. They are compact, concentrated and dissolve quickly in ordinary tap water. They can be mixed in large batches of solution at a cost comparable to that of even commodity bleach, the company says. PURTABS 13.1g is ideal for use with the PX300ES Protexus Backpack Sprayer. They are stable for three days once diluted and stored in a closed container. In an open container, the solution is stable for 24 hours.
Power Up VDC Power’s PowerFlow-200
The PowerFlow-200 aircraft power supply, by VDC Power, is designed to provide a continuous flow of lab grade power when plugged into a 220 VAC source, and can generally power all aircraft systems, including air conditioning, in a wide variety of aircraft.
Features include a high visibility voltmeter and ammeter to show output in real time and 180-260 VAC single phase input. The unit is small and portable for use away from home base, has an ergonomic top handle and rubber feet to reduce vibration and absorb shocks.
- Input: 26A @ 220VAC
- Wall plug type: Customer Supplied (30A minimum)
- Output: Up to 200A @ 28.5V
- Input cable length: 40′
- Output (to aircraft) cable length: 7′
- Dimensions: 13.625″L x 7.125″W x 11″H
- Weight: 46 lbs. with cables
Airplane Hangar Fall Arrest Systems Designed for Big Jobs
The fall protection system at airport hangars are a large undertaking and need to be expertly installed by fall protection specialists, says Lighthouse Safety. Each worker at the hangar has many concerns. Every job is literally a multi-million dollar project – cleaning, maintaining or repairing hugely expensive jets. The work can be complicated. The footing can be treacherous. It’s all too easy to make safety protection less of a consideration. A strong fall protection system from Lighthouse Safety eliminates this concern. The system is user-friendly and provides full mobility, even in such a large space. Every part of the plane can be safely and efficiently reached. Danger is completely avoided. In an airport hangar — where every job is big and expensive – your best assurance of safety is the guaranteed-effective fall protection services of Lighthouse Safety. Our fall protection experts will before, during and after the project to make sure your workers have the highest possible degree of protection from falls.