you’ve ever stepped onto a commercial flight then you may have flown in a Boeing 737 or a similar aircraft. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to stand next to one, you may have realized these larger-than-life aircraft can make you feel really tiny. With that in mind, it might seem reasonable that these oversized air taxis require hours for an inspection or repair. Yet, more airline corporations are using an aviation borescope to get “eyes” inside of aircraft, like the Boeing 737.
Inspecting a Boeing 737 With an Aviation Borescope
Let’s break this down quickly. One of the most common problems faced by mechanics is being able to reach the tight spots within the aircraft. You can bet that technicians have spent hours with a flashlight trying to view those hard-to-reach spots before resolving to take the aircraft wing or engine apart, only to discover nothing wrong. Routine inspections completed this way can be expensive and time-consuming.
Borescopes were invented to improve and expedite the inspection process across a range of industries. An aviation borescope (or other borescopes) is similar to a medical endoscope because it allows the mechanical engineer see inside of tight spaces of the Boeing 737, much like an endoscope gives surgeons the ability to see inside the tight spaces of our body.
By inserting a tiny tube and camera through a small opening, it helps you avoid disassembling the large components of the aircraft or a patient’s body (aka surgery). The camera is not just any old camera. An aviation borescope is fitted with a high-resolution, HD camera on the tip of the insertion probe.
Types of Aviation Borescope Inspections
Aircraft are not just designed to defy gravity to transport us quickly from one place to the next but also come with a full maintenance and inspection procedure outlined for the duration of its life. The FAA signs off on these schedules—schedules that must be adhered to by everyone operating a plane. This includes the military, private jets, and commercial businesses.
The rules vary according to the type of aircraft, of course. Typically an aviation borescope inspection of a Boeing 737 is done after a specific number of operating hours and cycles. These are often referred to as the 100-hour inspection and annual inspections. The shorter routine inspections ensure the turbine engines, landing gear, and other components are in top operating condition. These types of inspections are often done overnight so as not to take them out of circulation for too long.
Another type is an inspection that takes the aircraft out of service for at least a couple of weeks. This could be a full inspection or one that assesses the damage. For example, an aviation mechanic might need to conduct an inspection in the event an emergency occurs such as a faulty engine or if foreign object debris (FOD) damages the aircraft in any way at all.
FOD damage can result in maintenance costs exceeding $1 million. If the aircraft has incurred damage, then this type of inspection is conducted more thoroughly because the damage must be repaired entirely before the plane can return to its flight schedule. Lives are at risk each time a plane takes to the sky, which is why it’s critical that the aircraft be deemed airworthy prior to being returned to service.
Because aircraft inspections tend to be highly complicated, aviation borescopes are the technologically advanced tool that aviation mechanics can use to their advantage to easily access difficult, tight spots within the Boeing 737 aircraft.
In addition to inspections for repairs, airline corporations are quickly realizing the importance of using a powerful aviation borescope to inspect aircraft like the Boeing 737 for preventative maintenance to reduce future associated repair costs and keep their aircraft flying high.