Aircraft Pneumatic Systems – Vacuum System and De-Ice System Maintenance

If you are an aircraft enthusiast with an interest in Beechcraft, Cessna, Citation, Piper, Cirrus, or Challenger aircraft, then you are in the right place.

At AAI, we overhaul and exchange aircraft accessories (especially hard-to-find accessories) for these aircraft brands, which means we have an insider’s view that very few people in the entire world get to see.

We get an up-close look at the wear and tear created by years of use and hours of flight time. We see the problem parts that are prone to failure, we see the high performing parts that rarely have issues, and we see everything in between.

So, if you are an aircraft enthusiast (whether you own a private aircraft, are an aircraft mechanic, a pilot, or maybe just have dreams of flying someday) then you will find valuable information in our blog series, An Insider’s Guide to Airplane Parts and Maintenance.

Part 1 – Aircraft Fuel System Parts and Maintenance

Part 2 – Aircraft Hydraulic System Parts and Maintenance 

Part 3 – Flight Control System Maintenance: Trim Tab and Flap Actuators

Part 4 – Aircraft Landing Gear Repair and Overhaul

Part 5 – Pneumatic Systems – Vacuum System and De-ice System Maintenance (this article)

Be sure to subscribe to our Frequent Flyers Email Newsletter (sent monthly) so that you don’t miss any articles!

The AAI insider’s guide to aircraft vacuum systems.

Aircraft pneumatic system failure might not cause a crash in and of itself, but when these systems fail it can cause spatial disorientation, which in turn can result in severe and fatal accidents.

So, why do airplane vacuum systems fail? Here are a few reasons:

  • Corrosion
  • Broken rubber seals
  • Dirty/clogged systems or filters

The best way to keep your aircraft’s vacuum systems in good shape is by keeping them clean and maintained regularly, even if they aren’t showing signs of damage. Be sure to check your aircraft’s valves, pressure manifolds, and vacuum manifolds. Maintenance regulations vary by manufacturer and airframe, so be sure to do your research on recommended upkeep and usage.

At AAI, our repair providers use nickel plating material to combat corrosion and prevent failure on your plane’s pneumatic systems. In addition to superior plating over the OEM, the parts have been re-engineered to remove materials used in the sealing areas that lead to deterioration and failure outlined in Airborne Service Letter 39A.  While this improvement does not eliminate the 10-year required replacement, it does provide higher quality and longevity of the vacuum and de-ice systems.

The AAI insider’s guide to aircraft de-ice systems.

The last thing you want as a pilot is for your aircraft de-ice system to fail. The buildup of ice on the leading edge of the wings and tail of your aircraft can change the airflow, which in turn can cause a loss of lift and control. This is why it is so important to keep your de-ice systems maintained.

As we mentioned above, an aircraft de-ice system works like this:

Boots are glued to the surface of the wings and tail ➡️ Thin tubes run from end to end of each boot ➡️ If ice forms on the wings, the pilot activates the boots by hitting a switch ➡️ The boots inflate under pneumatic pressure, inflate, and break up the ice.

Because pumps cause the inflation of the aircraft’s de-ice systems, there are regulators and valves that are critical to the operation of these important systems. Without proper maintenance, systems can fail, and accidents can occur.

So, what is the best way to keep your aircraft’s de-ice systems maintained?

Here are some tips:

  • Regular inspections (after every flight) and replacements
  • Clean the boots after every flight to ensure there isn’t debris left behind
  • Check for damage after every flight

AAI provides FAA certified replacement parts on vacuum systems and de-ice systems.

There is no room for procrastination when it comes to aircraft pneumatic system maintenance. Limited sources for these parts have led to long lead times and high prices. With AAI, you can avoid overpaying and having to wait while your aircraft sits in a hangar for months on end. AAI is a major distributor for one of the only repair stations certified to work on these parts, which allows you to send them in for overhaul, but also keeps a healthy stock of De-Ice Valves, Check Valves, Regulators and Manifolds for exchange.

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