Aircraft jacks are critical tools that aid in the inspection and routine maintenance of aircraft. Their primary function includes fully or partially lifting the aircraft off the ground in order to carry out assessments on the tires, wheel housings, landing gear, and more. As they are tasked with such important operations, aircraft jacks should be properly inspected and used according to established procedures.
Extensive damage to aircraft jacks could result in serious injuries to maintenance personnel and technicians if the jacks are not handled with care. More than that, in very rare cases, the aircraft can slip off the jack, causing unprecedented damage. With this in mind, the maintenance organization is obligated to have safety policies and procedures in place that dictate how to operate aircraft jacks. In this blog, we will be covering some of the most common guidelines that need to be followed.
Aircraft Jack Inspections
Though it may seem straightforward, maintenance technicians must be trained in the general operation of aircraft jacks and must use them within their design specifications and load limits. This is important because different jacks and aircraft manufacturers will have varying information on the proper use of their equipment. As such, manufacturers should be available at the site for reference if needed. Additionally, technicians should wear all the required safety devices, such as safety goggles and gloves while using the jacks.
Before using any jack, one must verify that all 90-day and 12-month maintenance inspections have been performed along with the appropriate annual load test and that the proper documentation is present. An inspection should be carried out just before using any jack to ensure that it is working optimally. This inspection should include verifying that all hydraulic fluid levels are adequate. Additionally, one must check for any stressed, bent, dented, missing, or damaged parts. Lastly, one must examine all weld joints and lock nuts for any signs of cracks, as well as other safety features.
Aircraft Jack Operation
In terms of jack operation, jacks should only be used on a solid, level surface. Furthermore, they should be protected from any adverse weather and wind conditions during the jacking procedure. For this reason, an aircraft hangar is considered the best environment for jacking an aircraft. Before using the jack, one must also ensure that the immediate area under and around the aircraft is examined for safety risks. During the jacking procedure, no additional work should be taking place around, on, or in the aircraft.
Once the area around the aircraft has been assessed, the proper location of the jack points should be determined. Typically, the manufacturer’s maintenance manual will provide this information as it varies according to the aircraft. The jacking points can be found equally around the aircraft’s center of gravity. There are usually three jacking points, one on each wing and one on the fuselage near the tail or the nose. Also, the correct jack pad should be used, ensuring that the aircraft load is distributed evenly.
When the aircraft is ready to be raised, the jacks should be operated simultaneously to keep the aircraft as leveled as possible. A crew leader can be positioned at the front of the aircraft to provide instructions to the members manning the jacks. By following such guidelines, serious accidents and damage can be avoided.
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