The Most Common Tools In Aviation Maintenance
Aviation maintenance technicians rely on a wide range of hand tools in the course of their work. What tools are used depends heavily on the aircraft; a large commercial jet will have different maintenance requirements than a small general aviation aircraft, which will be different from that of a cargo helicopter. Across the industry however, there are some pieces of equipment that will be welcome in any workshop.
Hammers and mallets are typically used to form soft metals and striking surfaces that are easily damaged. Soft-faced hammers feature striking surfaces made of materials like wood, brass, hard rubber, plastic, or rawhide. They are not used to strike punch heads, bolts, or nails, as doing so can easily ruin the hammer’s surface. Instead, they are used to shape thin metal parts without causing creases or dents with abrupt corners.
Used to tighten or loosen screws and screw head bolts, screwdrivers come in numerous shapes, blade types, and lengths. A screwdriver’s head must fill at least 75% of the screw slot; if it is too small or too large, the screwdriver will simply cut and burr the screw slot, making it worthless and forcing a screw extractor to be used. Screwdrivers can also come with replaceable tips, allowing the operator to swap out one once after it has been worn down. Currently, cordless hand-held power screwdrivers are the most widely-used, as they can remove multiple screws much faster than a simple hand-driven version.
Pliers are another frequently used type of tool, with diagonal, needlenose, and duckbill the most common in the aviation industry. They are used to crimp metal, trim safety wire, and cut wires, rivets, screws, and cotter pins.
Wrenches are some of the most common tool used in aircraft maintenance, with popular types such as open-end, box-end, socket, adjustable, ratcheting, and specialized types found in repair shops worldwide. These wrenches are usually made from chrome-vanadium steel, which is chosen for its resilience and durability. Specialty wrenches such as crowfoot, flare nut, spanner, torque, and Allen wrenches are also frequently used. A crowfoot wrench, for instance, is used when trying to access nuts that need to be removed from studs, or bolts that cannot be accessed using other tools.
When a definite and predetermined amount of pressure must be applied, torque wrenches are used. A torque wrench is a precision tool that can be calculated to administer or measure the amount of turning or twisting force a nut, bolt, or screw has received, ensuring that fasteners are tightened exactly as tight as they should be.