The aircraft battery is an important part of the electronic system, allowing for power to be provided during ground operations and emergencies, clearing faults, increasing the stability of DC buses, and more. Similar to other aircraft systems and components, the aircraft battery requires regular maintenance to ensure its health and efficiency. Depending on the construction of the battery and its chemical contents, there are a number of ways in which maintenance can be performed.
Across most aircraft, the two major types of aircraft batteries used are the lead-acid and NiCd types. With a lead-acid battery, a lead oxide anode and elemental lead cathode are placed within an electrolyte solution. With high energy storage and power provision capabilities, such battery types serve as optimal DC voltage sources for an aircraft. The NiCd battery, on the other hand, features a cadmium hydroxide anode and nickel hydroxide cathode that are immersed within an electrolyte solution. As compared to lead-acid types, NiCd batteries have a larger operating range for temperature and feature low amounts of needed maintenance.
If the aircraft battery is a lead-acid type, leaking electrolytes, environmental temperatures, and the length of maintenance intervals are all factors that can determine the health of the aircraft battery. Even if there is no electrolyte leakage, the constant need for refilling may indicate that the battery is facing an issue, has a faulty battery charger, or may be overcharging. The weight of the electrolytes should also be compared against pure water, as larger weight differences within cells may mean that the battery is nearing a state where it must be replaced.
With NiCd batteries, the most common failures that occur are often the result of a shorted or weakened cell. Because of this, NiCd batteries may have their service lives extended simply by replacing the faulty cell in some cases. To ensure that the battery exhibits a proper discharge rate, a battery charger may be used to measure and determine the state of charge. One should also always take care to never overfill the battery with electrolyte solutions, as spillage can cause corrosion, blockages, discharges, or even cell ruptures.
Regardless of whether the battery in question is a lead-acid or NiCd type, maintenance workers and operators should always follow manufacturer specifications and approved procedures before conducting any major actions. Despite this, there are some general maintenance tips that should be regularly followed to ensure proper service is conducted. For one, the installation date of the battery should always be written on the equipment itself as well as within aircraft maintenance logs or shop maintenance logs. Furthermore, the physical condition of the aircraft battery should be checked so that any hazards, damages, or other issues are remedied right away. If battery connectors or cable connections are damaged, parts should be replaced immediately so that proper power transfer can be carried out.
While regular inspection intervals may be required for airworthiness, checks should also be conducted before each and every flight to maintain safety. When checking the aircraft battery during a pre-flight inspection, cable connections should be checked for their secure attachment, electrolyte loss should be looked-out for, and all components should be viewed for damage. By conducting such procedures regularly, operators can protect their aircraft batteries and ensure that they provide as long of service lives as possible.
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