The Evolution of Helicopter Maintenance

View All Posts
helicopter parts

Helicopters manufactured earlier were simple compared to those we have today. You will find that today’s helicopter parts are different or more evolved. Also, the advancement in the design has necessitated the need for modifications in helicopter maintenance. Currently, the U.S. spends more than $1 billion each decade on helicopter maintenance.

UH-1H ‘Huey’ Helicopter Upkeep

In 1960, the most frequently used multi-purpose helicopter was the Bell UH-1H. Together with the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, the Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight, and the Bell AH-1 Cobra, it was among the most used helicopters during the Vietnam Warfare. For activities like air assault, re-supply, search and rescue and as a gunship, the UH-1H helicopter was used. Due to the climate and landscape of Vietnam, helicopter maintenance was not easy. Some days were rainy, and others excessively hot and dry. During the hot season, the helicopter would stir up red dust, causing significant damage to the helicopter. You would find rotors worn out after flying for as little as 200 hours, or poor visibility would result in collisions or crash landing.

Common Maintenance for the UH-1H

The harsh weather conditions necessitated the need for constant repair of the helicopter parts. Some common maintenances included

  • Looking for nicks in blades
  • Rotor replacement
  • Covering the bullet holes using tape
  • Disassembling the engine carburetor for repairs
  • Changing the filters and checking if the nuts that held them were correctly wired
  • Inspecting the fluids for metal shavings
  • General inspection before each flight

Maintenance crew members would hardly fly in the helicopter unless they were conducting a flight check or after completing repairs.

UH-60 Helicopter Maintenance

Helicopters are still mainly used for defense, transportation, or commercial purposes 60 years down the line after the rise of the UH-1H. Today, one of the commonly used helicopters is the UH-60 Black Hawk. It is used by the U.S military and the armed forces of about 28 other countries. Therefore, all its helicopter parts must be well maintained for safety when flying.

Common Maintenance for the UH-60

  • Disassembling the engine and repairing it
  • Repairing hydraulic, electrical, and fuel systems
  • Repairing steel, aluminum, and fiberglass airframes and coverings
  • Checking the battery
  • Checking oil samples
  • Inspecting the gearbox
  • General troubleshooting
  • Installing the aircraft’s subsystem assemblies

The preventative maintenance checks have to be done every 40 flight hours, and they can take around 20 hours to finish.

In the last decade, the number of civilian helicopters has gone up by about 38%. This means that more and more helicopters need maintenance to work effectively. This is why when choosing a helicopter parts supplier, you ensure that they provide quality products.