How to Care for Your Aircraft Exhaust System

The exhaust system of an aircraft performs many crucial functions, ranging from enhancing the performance of the engine to contributing to the smooth and efficient operation of the aircraft as a whole. The aircraft exhaust system is critical to safety, and a failure can result in dangerous consequences. Not only is a failed system a serious fire hazard, it could also lead to a partial or total loss of engine power. In addition to these, it can also cause serious problems such as carbon monoxide poisoning and engine backfire. Fortunately, all of these problems can be avoided through proper maintenance and awareness of the early warning signs of deterioration.

Aircraft exhaust systems are exposed to temperatures as high as 1000 degrees Celsius on a regular basis. These high temperatures, especially within highly corrosive environments, can drastically alter the performance and condition of the exhaust system, frequently leading to failure. 

There are three common types of exhaust system failure. The first is the escape of exhaust gas into the cabin through the cabin hearing system due to leakage or material damage in components of mufflers and heat exchangers. The second is partial or complete loss of engine power caused by loose baffles, cones, or diffusers in the mufflers or heat exchangers that block gas outlet flow. This occurs from time to time, particularly when the parts within the muffler are unfixed and move around during subsequent flights. The final type of failure is structural failure or torching of the surrounding area where exhaust components exist or are breached. This failure is especially concerning in aircraft that have engines which operate at higher exhaust gas temperatures and pressures.

In order to prevent these failures from occurring, aviation governing bodies mandate that all inspections and maintenance of aircraft exhaust systems be done in strict accordance with the recommendations of their manufacturers. They also advise increasing inspection intervals to include a stringent review of exhaust systems inside and out. These intervals include annual, progressive, and 100-hour inspections, as well as pre-flight inspections carried out by the aircraft owner or pilot. Regular inspections should be more than a quick look at the outside of the system. In most cases, it is best to hire a professional aircraft technician to do the job properly, especially when disassembly is required.

In addition to regular inspection and maintenance, there are a few warning signs every aircraft owner should be aware of. All of these should be easily identifiable during routine inspection. Signs of exhaust system leakage include flat gray, black, or light gray powder or a murky/smoky appearance, these are telltale signs of leakage and will be visible on surfaces near the exhaust system such as welds, clamps, external joins, flex-joints, and flanges. If your system is deteriorating structurally, signs on the components and their external surfaces will include deformation, thinning, cracks, dents, scaling, corrosion, and discoloration. Finally, signs of misaligned components will include abnormal wear or bent, broken, loose, or missing parts, clamps, and seals. Misalignment of components can cause cracking of critical components.

While regular inspection and professional maintenance may be costly and time-consuming, they are far more preferable to serious exhaust system failure. For aircraft exhaust system components and much more, look to NSN Components.

NSN components is an online distributor of aircraft parts such as exhaust valves, exhaust pipes, and much more for various military and civilian aircraft applications. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all types of unique parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. Our dedicated account managers are standing by and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@nsncomponents.com or call us at 1-480-504-1299.


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January 18, 2021

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