How we pinpointed and solved the Airbus A320 Series elevator flutter issue.
It all began when pilots started reporting vibrations while on board. We then received reports of elevator degradation on the Airbus A320 Series. Enter M1 and its solutions to address these issues and repair the damaged aircraft.
Fast forward to the analysis of the aircraft. We know what the problems are and need to identify the specific issues causing this particular damage. We began by reviewing the elevators and analyzing all the issues, leading to various conclusions. We found out that the Beyond Economical Repair (BER) was higher than average. The repair team encountered heavy composite damage near the trailing edge, as well as moisture accumulation in the elevator structure. It was covered with various coats of paint, creating a heavy structural assembly. Due to its exceeding weight, the elevator was ruled out of use in smaller aircraft such as A319 models. Additionally, the analysis crew discovered severely worn hinge attachment bearings. The estimated turnaround time (TAT) for this aircraft was 35 days according to the previous analysis.
We took on the repairs to reduce the weight of each unit and make it more versatile. We revamped the Component Maintenance Manual (CMM) by adding procedures to better restore a structural element. The mechanic’s team then took on the repairs and the development of the systems and got the modification approved by the Airbus team. Meanwhile, all hinge fittings and bearings were addressed. We’ve reduced the global cost for the customer after targeting, controlling, and removing moisture areas, as well as developing repair schemes to best restore the damage.
With all its efforts, M1 was able to reduce the program cost from $11M to $4M in only one year. Another impactful saving is reducing the BER rate below 1%. The repairs have offset the TAT to a low of 7 days, dropping it by 28 days. This latest accomplishment enabled the customer to reduce parts from 12 to 4 shipsets, drastically reducing inventory levels and costs, which is a net benefit. With its latest upkeep, all units in the M1 repair program can be utilized on entire fleets of aircraft models. One of the main issues from this case was, in fact, the flutter and vibration reported by the cabin crew. Since the repairs, none have been reported. We’ve noticed that the repaired elevators have a longer lifespan among the aircraft, reducing operational costs. The longevity of the wing has significantly reduced the total cost of ownership of the elevators and limited maintenance issues. The use of standard procedures and knowledge of the product has resulted in lower repair costs, although the scope of work is more extensive. It’s safe to say we saved the day!