Regional Jet Landing Gear Systems

The gold standard for reliability

When asked about some of the common problems they see in overhaul, Redkin says, “Corrosion is our nemesis and it is problematic for aircraft that fly Caribbean or Pacific routes. Corrosion is often found under bushings and on gland nuts and mating threads and is caused by salt, moisture, and dissimilar metals.”

According to Av-Reps, “Modern aircraft landing gears are extremely durable and can make about 10-15,000 cycles before they are removed and overhauled.” Redkin says that “only about 5 percent of customer gear removals are unscheduled. These are usually caused by corrosion, fluid leaks, or cracks. There can be a considerable difference in time and cost between the two scenarios. In unscheduled removals we don’t dissemble the gear. We follow the manufacturer’s troubleshooting practices until we locate the problem, then stop and implement a repair or component replacement and return the gear to service. Time is money for the regionals and we want to get their gears returned to operating spec and out of the shop as quickly as possible.”

Overhaul processes

I asked if there was one specific landing gear component that was more problematic than another. Redkin says, “We do not see a trend in gear or component wear or malfunction. No one component stands out.” This certainly speaks to the reliability and durability of modern landing gears.

I asked if they had a brand name quality program like Lean Production or Six Sigma. Redkin says, “We do not have a brand name continuous improvement program. We developed our own quality system that is an inspection intense work process supported by a custom software package. As you review our workflow process you will notice that a component is checked many times during our overhaul process. Depending on the gear and bill of work, the total turnaround time for overhaul can range from 25 to 45 days.”

The production team involved in an overhaul includes technicians, production managers, director of maintenance, and QA inspectors. The outcome of these stage inspections is almost nonexistent warranty work, “less than 1 percent,” and “very reliable gears.”

For example, Takacs informed me, “Some of our technicians get to see DCH-8 gears that we previously overhauled and have made another 10,000 cycles. Again, most of our business is repeat customers and new ones are from referrals. Our goal is to develop long-term relationships with our customers so we strive to deliver a flawless level of service and reliable components. We also get compliments and high marks for our quality program from Transport Canada auditors.”

Av-Reps’ quality program and work process benefit their customers in several ways. It considers Transport Canada a partner and they work together to find practical solutions that benefit operators. According to Redkin, “Because of our relationship with Transport Canada we have been able to design several cost-saving repair schemes.”

In Canada, you can follow manufacturer’s specifications or present your arguments for a concession to the Transport Canada Design Approval Organization. In some cases they have been able to get these concessions for their authorized repairs without going through lengthy approval from the manufacturer. Occasionally, they can save their customers about half the cost of the traditional repair. This is extremely important when considering that a new nose gear for a DCH-8, 100 series is around $187,000 USD and a main gear is around $296,000 USD. The nose gear for a Q 400 is about $1.2 million USD and the main gear is $998,000 USD. In one instance, “Av-Reps was able to get Transport Canada approval to ream a steering manifold body on a DCH-8 and save the customer about $6,000 USD.”

I asked if Av-Reps could offer any tips or advice to help operators extend the service lives of landing gears and reduce overhaul costs. The company suggested several practices that could save time and money. “Keep the oleo strut serviced, follow the work cards, and keep all the gear links lubricated; this makes a significant difference in the overhaul bill of work. Inspect the gear bushing and gland nuts to ensure that the protective sealant is intact. Keep all chrome surfaces on struts and actuators clean and inspect for FOD damage.”

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