The Brush Plating Repair Approval Process in Aerospace: A Review
Every day the skies host thousands of flights consisting of aircrafts both small and large carrying up to 800 passengers to their desired destinations. As the fleet size increases, the need for regularly scheduled overhaul, repair and OEM maintenance skyrockets.
For several decades, selective brush plating has been an approved process in aircraft maintenance by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and OEM engine and aircraft manufacturer’s manuals. Aviation maintenance personnel find that brush plating reduces costs and downtime, because the process is portable, easy to use, reliable, fast, and environmentally friendly.
Typical aerospace applications include:
- Corrosion protection
- Dimensional restoration
- Improvement of surface properties
- Repair of aluminum components
- Selective chromium stripping
All aircraft repair procedures must be covered by specifications or approved engineering procedures. The first commercial aviation specification for brush plating was written in 1956. Today selective brush plating is covered by more than 100 aircraft specifications.
So what is the appropriate procedure for obtaining a repair for an aircraft component? First, review the repair manual*. Second, keep open lines of communication with manufacturers and the FAA**. Legal repairs performed on civil aircraft are carried out through instructions from:
- Manufacturer’s Maintenance Manual
- Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (prepared by the manufacturer)
- Approved FAA procedures
- Advisory Circular
- Engineered Repair
Brush plating and anodizing have been made an integral part of the repair process as it is cited in numerous Repair Procedure, Standard Practice, Process Specification, Repair Manual, Service Bulletin, and Manufacturing Specification publications. FAA Repair Stations holding FAA approval with an authorized rating can perform the repair per the specified requirements.
In some cases, repairs can vary from the overhaul or maintenance manual, such as brush plating rather than tank plating. While the end result is comparative the means of getting there is different. In these instances, it is important to communicate with all parties to ensure the application is written into the applicable specification. A simple phone call to the manufacturer may be all that is required to obtain written approval. Good communication with the manufacturer is essential.
However, new repair procedures might meet some resistance due to cost, safety, testing requirements, proprietary information, or other concerns. If the repair is technically sound, then a procedural change may be obtained by:
- FAA Advisory Circular 43.13-1B
- FAA Designated Engineering Representative (DER)
Although the FAA is not under obligation to OEMs, the FAA will often consult a manufacturer for a technical opinion, especially for critical components.
In summary, brush plating is an existing FAA and OEM approved process. To start using it on your components, take a look at your repair manual for the appropriate procedure. Do you have a change to the procedure? Contact the manufacturer. Do you have a new procedure? Contact the FAA. Soon the SIFCO Process® will be known as an approved method for use in the aerospace industry.
*For proper applications.
**Find an approved FAA source to perform the repair.